Introduction to Bioinformatics
The word Bioinformatics is a term which, in the present day, cannot go unheard-of by any person who is dabbling their hands in the science of biology. Anyone who is pursuing biology is aware of the crucial role this new and rapidly emerging subject is playing in providing a better platform for traditional biology to grow. Bioinformatics is a multidisciplinary branch which compiles statistical analysis, computational methods and biological information of living organisms under one mesh.
Bows, Arrows and Bull’s Eye!
If by analogy, we consider biology in itself as a bow whereas ‘bioinformatics’ as one of its arrow, then the bull’s eye we aim to hit is a series of objectives which include:
- Improving the quality and information capacity of current databases which are in use by adding more features to optimize them.
- Developing more computational tools for studying functional and structural genomics and proteomics.
- Creating new algorithms for analysing sequences. These should be able to analyse sequences at various structural and homology levels.
The Archers of Bioinformatics
For the objectives to be fulfilled, the future demands well-versed people who can handle both biology and analytical skills required to exercise on this biological knowledge. A person having enough skills for balancing this is welcomed to study this subject and further develop it.
Courses in Bioinformatics
For students who wish to pursue this branch, there are many course options available currently both in India and abroad. Though it is not mandatory to get a master’s degree to pursue a career in bioinformatics, it is highly recommended as it provides specialization in the field and the students are fully equipped for job handling after completion.
In India many of the major institutes both government and private are offering degrees at graduate, postgraduate as well as Ph.D. levels.
Graduate– B.Tech, B.Sc, B.Sc (Honours), BE, Diploma courses in Bioinformatics
Masters – M.Tech, M.Sc, PG Diploma, MS, ME, M.Sc (Honours) in Bioinformatics
Ph.D. – Ph.D. courses are also available in most colleges, some of the top colleges providing these degrees are IIT Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, NSIT, IIT Allahabad, IISER Pune.
Specializations in Bioinformatics
There are also specializations available like Data Mining, genomic architecture, genetic circuits and metabolic computing.
Most of the institutions abroad also have these courses; the more prevalent post graduate degree is MS. Some well-known institutions which offer these courses abroad are Harvard University, John Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, and Boston University.
How to Take Admission:-
Since bioinformatics is initially a branch under biotechnology, one must apply for the nationwide biotechnology and life sciences examinations conducted by the government such as IIT JAM, CSIR-NET, GATE and JNCASR. Bioinformatics National Certification Examination (BINC) is also conducted by the DBT to grant research fellowships to Ph.D. students.
To study in foreign universities, scores of exams like GRE, GMAT, IELTS, SAT and TOEFL are considered for admission. The universities may or may not conduct a specialized exam for the course.
What do We Need to Prepare For?
With the passage of time, this subject is going to burst in popularity in the near future as the demands for big data analysis rises. At one point, the need for storing and better management of data which is already present is going to exceed the need of acquiring more data and that is the time when the demand for bioinformatics specialists is going to be especially high. We need to be ever ready to meet this demand and help in the overall development and welfare of mankind.
Top Five Job Opportunities in Bioinformatics
- Bio Analysts: They are responsible for analysis and applied research on biological information and help in enhancing the current knowledge base about that particular organism.
- Data Scientists: They create algorithms and visualization methods for genomics and molecular biology.
- Informatic Developer: They help in developing new software for data analysis of already available information and are basically programmers with a biological background.
- Bioinformatics Researcher: They conduct their research with the help of computational tools and can also design algorithms for the studies.
- Pharmaco-genetic Engineer: A pharmaco-genetic engineer works in the direction of drug and pharmaceutical development with genetic engineering as its study base. Utilizing the genome and proteome data existing drugs can also be improved.
Some top bioinformatics companies in India which can provide such jobs are BIOBASE Databases India Pvt. Ltd., CLC Bio India, Siri Technologies, Ocimum Biosolutions and Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd.
The job options vary from being self-employed to working for a public or private institution. Salary of a fresher is not very high, i.e. around 1.5-2.5 LPA but as the experience increases, the income also increases. The average income of an established person in bioinformatics can vary from 7 to 9 lakhs per annum. Keeping the income factor aside, it is very necessary to find a job compatible to your interests, a few very in and upcoming job options are:
Written By :- Prashansa Gupta (Sem–V) B.Tech Biotechnology