Bioinformatics is a field that has been developing over the last thirty years. It is a discipline that represents a marriage between biotechnology and computer technologies and has evolved through the convergence of advances in each of these fields. Today bioinformatics is a field that encompasses all aspects of the application of computer technologies to biological data. Computers are used to organize, link, analyze and visualize complex sets of biological data.

With the advent of high throughput technologies such as Next Generation Sequencing and proteomics, bioinformatics has become essential to the biological sciences in general. In the past, laboratories were able to manage and analyze their experimental data in spreadsheets. Many research labs now require the expertise of dedicated bioinformatics core centers or their own in-house bioinformaticists.

Graduates of our programs have entered such laboratories, both in industry and academia, as bioinformaticists. Some have also gone on to leverage their biotechnology experiences as wet lab experimentalists themselves. The diversity of skills our students cultivate has given them access to a wide range of career choices.

The Bioinformatics BS has a molecular genetics option and a BS/MS option that allows students to finish a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.


To view the a more detailed list of courses for this program, click here.
Rochester Institute of Technology College of Science

Prerequisites:

These may be taken at RIT as part of a bridge program or may be completed at any accredited college or university within the US.

Computer Science - One year of introductory computer science.

Biology - One year of introductory biology.

Data Analysis - One semester of an introductory statistics course.

Chemistry - Introductory general and organic chemistry, plus one semester of biochemistry.

Additionally, we recommend that students take the following course work before admission.

Databases - One semester of introductory database course work, including SQL.

Discrete Math - One semester of discrete math.

Tailored Courses:

In order to provide the best education possible for our students, we have created a number of courses specifically for our Bioinformatics programs. These courses are in unique to our program and are designed to integrate the biotechnology, computer and information sciences and mathematics skills necessary become successful in the field of bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics Algorithms:
Students in this course study the theory behind foundational and more modern bioinformatics algorithms such as phylogenetics, genomic sequence assembly, nucleic acid secondary structure, and basic gene finding. Additionally, students implement key algorithms in the laboratory portion of the course.

Ethics in Bioinformatics:
The objectives of this course are to expose students to the ethical issues associated with bioinformatics research and the application of bioinformatics to product development and commercialization. This course will be presented in a seminar format in order to engender and facilitate discussion, among faculty and students, of the issues presented.

Molecular Modeling and Proteomics:
The course will explore two facets of protein molecules: their structure and their expression. The structure component will build upon information from the Bioinformatics course and will add further sophistication with analysis of inter-molecular interactions and ligand/receptor pairing. Software that permits molecular docking experiments will be employed. Tissue-specific protein expression will be addressed in lectures with description of micro-array technology and, in the laboratory, with two-dimensional protein gel electrophoresis. Provide an advanced course in modeling of DNA and protein structures, and their interactions. Enable students to computationally construct small ligands for biologically important molecules. Also, introduce the students to the newly emerging field of proteomes: study of expressed gene products.

Statistical Models for Bioinformatics:
An introduction to the probabilistic models and statistical techniques used in computational molecular biology. Probabilistic and/or statistical techniques will be presented which are needed for the understanding of pairwise and multiple sequence alignment methods, gene and protein classification methods, and phylogenetic tree construction.

The major requires the completion of one cooperative education experience, where students participate in applied bioinformatics, using current technologies to gain a practical perspective. More than 65 organizations in industry, government, and academia employ our students in full-time paid positions. Co-op positions may be completed during the summer and/or the academic year. No tuition is charged for co-op participation. If a student elects to pursue co-op during the academic year, they may need to extend the date of graduation beyond the traditional four years.

Bioinformatics Jobs come with several different areas of focus, which are less strictly hierarchical than bioscience discovery researchjobs. The analyst/programmer job provides more focused computational analysis support. Analyst/programmers design and develop software, databases and interfaces used to analyze and manipulate genomic databases. They collaborate with production to develop high-throughput data processing and analysis capability and to design and implement data queries, novel algorithms, and/or visualization techniques. Analyst/programmers also maintain large-sacale DNA databases, prepare data for other scientists, monitor new data from integrating sequence-based/ functional knowledge about genes to help scientists analyze and interpret gene-expression data. They also analyze DNA information and identify opportunities for innovative solutions to analyze and manage biological data. In addition, they often assist in developing software and custom scripts to automate data retrieval, manipulation, and analysis; application of statistics; and visualization tools. 

(Source: Vault Career Guide to Biotech; The Jobs in Lab Research)

Within the bioinformatics field employers tend to look for the following skills/strengths: fundamental training/knowledge in molecular biology, biochemistry and biotechnology, particularly, genomics, relational database administration and programming skills/e.g. using 

SQL, PERL, C,C++, etc. on a UNIX operating system, strong analytical abilities using relevant mathematical/statistical tools, a strong interest in utilizing computational skills to leverage the data outcomes of those working in the laboratory, Meticulous, independent, patient to do the same task repetitively and multitask.

(Source: www.geocities.com/bioinformaticsweb/carrier.html)

Some bioinformatics professionals believe this field will continue to be insulated from all but major economic shocks, for several reasons. It is still a relatively new field and there are not enough qualified people to fill the need. Also, companies and academic centers continue to realize additional needs for such persons and thus create more new positions, particularly for MS and PhD graduates. On the other hand, in the past few years, the number of related academic programs (and job-seeking graduates) has increased significantly, while the rate of increase in new jobs has somewhat declined. There has also been a recent shift towards increasing academic jobs and decreasing industry jobs. However, the bioinformatics market is still growing rapidly worldwide and expected to surpass the 50 billion $ mark soon, especially in the pharmaceutical and personal care product industries. 

(Source: Biohealthmatics.com & Chemical & Engineering News) 

 

             Average               Range

Co-op:  $13.53            $10.00-$16.00

BS, MS:Insufficient Data

Computational Biologist, Gene Analyst, Bioinformatics Software Developer, Research Assistant/Associate, Biologics Database Programmer/Administrator, Computer Analyst/Programmer, and Molecular Modeling Assistant.

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Pfizer, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Anthony IT, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Life Technologies, Applied Biosystems, The J. Craig Venture Institute, Indsoft Inc., 5Linx Enterprises, Childrens’ Hospital (Cambridge MA), Baylor College of Medicine, F.H. Hoffman/LaRoche Ltd., Broad Institute (at MIT), 454 Life Science, McNeil Consumer Products, The Institute for Genomic Research, Knowledge Computing, Agriculture Consulting Services, Automated Computer Solutions, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, FM Global, UCB, Inc., US Food & Drug Administration, University of Rochester Medical Center, and US Dept. of Agriculture.