August 3, 2009

Bioinformatics: Mining for Jobs

Filed under: Bioinformatics,Computational Biology — Biointelligence: Education,Training & Consultancy Services @ 4:54 pm
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The growing number of courses and experienced workers in bioinformatics points that the recruitment market has become tougher for new buds.

The publication of the draft sequence of the human genome in 2001 was not only a monumental achievement in science but also signalled the future of bioinformatics. With information on gene expression, protein structure and function, and disease susceptibility being applied to the genome sequence, pharmaceutical companies needed the right tools and expertise to make sense of the deluge of data spewing out of laboratories.

Early on, recruited staff usually fell into two groups: biologists who had some computer skills or computer scientists who had some knowledge of biology. In general, companies tended to favour the former.

“Bioinformaticians need to understand computer languages, but a fundamental and thorough understanding of biology is crucial in making sense of biological data and extracting the meaningful information.”

Bioinformatics requires different skills at different stages. These have been reperesented using the flow chart.

Skills required in bioinformatics at different stages

Bioinformatics has become sensitive to market trends. In recent years, companies have come and gone, such as Oakland, California-based Double Twist in 2002. Many leaders in the field, such as Celera and Incyte, have changed their business models from pure informatics-based approaches to applied approaches. Some companies recommend that if you really want a career in bioinformatics, doing a Ph.D. on a relevant project will provide you with experience, and having high-quality publications will strengthen your CV. Another way of gaining experience is to analyse the many data sets that are available on the Internet, such as gene-expression data from microarrays.

Bioinformatics is still a rapidly growing field. Large pharmaceutical companies are relying on informatics to improve efficiency, to allow more rapid decision making around existing projects and to more readily identify new ideas and targets. New areas, such as systems biology, will, if embraced by industry as anticipated, also require the skills of bioinformaticians. Mining for the right background and experience will increase your chances of joining this hottest of fields.

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