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Bioinformatics applies the power of computers to store and analyze information in digital format, particularly molecular biology and genome specific data. It is the process of developing and applying methods in the field of medical informatics to resolve issues in molecular biology. Bioinformatics can predict structures and simulate macromolecules. And, it has the potential to increase understanding of the human body at its most basic level--proteins. Since mapping the human genome using sequence analysis, bioinformatics has become very important in cancer research.

Both clinical genomics and proteomics require an integrated analysis of genetic, cellular, molecular and clinical information. Both require the expertise of pathologists, epidemiologists and biostatisticians, hence the emerging importance and expansion of the field of bioinformatics. This emerging field of study is accelerating biological research and generating new medical therapies

What Do Bioinformatics scientists do?

Bioinformatics Researchers perform mathematical, computer modeling, database construction and conduct studies of genetics, proteins, phylogenetics or molecular evolution.

What bioinformatics researchers do:

  • provide statistical and computational tools for genetic analysis, measurement of gene _expression and to determine gene functions
  • manage laboratory information, improve medical records systems and document clinical trial records for regulatory agencies
  • apply search algorithms to selected databases and chose the appropriate analytical procedures

What do qualifications do they need? In addition to a strong interest, they need a capability with advanced mathematics and computer programming combined with a solid background in biological science, particularly proteins and molecular biology.

Personal skills and the ability to work independently and yet function as a part of a team are essential. Bioinformatics scientists need to be proficient at producing, analyzing and interpreting scientific and numerical data.

What areas do bioinformatics specialists cover in their courses? Undergraduate preparation should include a biochemistry or molecular biology major including computer science and mathematics. At the Masters level, coursework is includes prerequisites such as:

  • Computational Molecular Biology
  • Protein and Nucleic Acid Structure, Dynamics, and Engineering
  • Representations and Algorithms for Computational Molecular Biology

The methods are examined from the perspective of the biologist and the computer scientist. The full scope of the field is included in basic bioinformatics coursework from sequence analysis to protein structure determination, analysis and prediction to functional genomics, pathway analysis and determination.

What areas of specialization are available? Bioinformatics scientists provide support for many areas of research by developing the analytical tools for a wide range of data from genetic, proteomic, cellular or molecular biology fields. A bioinformatics researcher may specialize in software development.

Jobs available to people without PhDs in this field are limited to laboratory technician work, education, communication or sales and marketing, manufacturing, business development, or information technology.

Source: www.unixl.com, 1/8/07