Bioinformatics is an emerging interdisciplinary area of Science & Technology encompassing a systematic development and application of IT solutions to handle biological information by addressing biological data collection and warehousing, data mining, database searches, analyses and interpretation, modeling and product design. It is mainly the application of information technology to the management of biological data. Therefore it is a rapidly evolving scientific discipline. Being an interface between modern biology and informatics it involves discovery, development and implementation of computational algorithms and software tools. In the last three decades, storage of biological data in public databases has become increasingly common, and these databases have grown exponentially. The biological literature is growing exponentially as well. Strictly speaking, bioinformatics is a subset of the larger field of computational biology, the application of quantitative analytical techniques in modeling biological systems.
Bioinformatics is mainly about answering practical questions and often less about developing elegant algorithms. Main bioinformatics areas of research are Gene Expression/Regulation, Protein/RNA Structure, Ontologies, Genome Sequencing/ Annotation and Molecular Interactions. Therefore bioinformatics has a key role to play in pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, it is used in reducing the time and cost involved in drug discovery process to custom design drugs and to develop personalized medicine.
Nature of Work
A researcher in bioinformatics mainly works on computers algorithms and database management systems. Their work involves making new computer algorithms, databases and bioinformatics visualization tools.
Research in bioinformatics and computational biology can encompass anything from the abstraction of the properties of a biological system into a mathematical or physical model, to the implementation of new algorithms for data analyses, to the development of database and web tools to access them. To engage in computational research, a biologist must be comfortable using software tools that run on a variety of operating systems.
The field of bioinformatics relies heavily on work by experts in statistical methods and patterns recognition. Researchers come to bioinformatics from many fields, including mathematics, computer science, and linguistics. Scientists in this field require brilliant mathematical and analytical skills besides the knowledge of their main subjects. Researchers in bioinformatics should have technical background. To be successful in this field a researcher has to be good in molecular biology and additional computer skills are added advantage. Bioinformatics researchers must have an above average aptitude in understanding of biological and mathematical concepts.
Graduates or post graduates in molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, statistics, biochemistry, and microbiology are suitable for course in bioinformatics. Programs are available at bachelors, masters, doctorate and at post doctorate levels. Apart from these several diplomas and post graduate diplomas are also available. In many universities bioinformatics course begins at undergraduate levels. For these basic educational qualification is 10+2 with science as the compulsory subject.
Different professional courses are available in bioinformatics. The current research themes in computational and structural biology are data mining, prediction and analysis of biological data, designing of data structures to represent information unambiguously, development of accessible software to submit new data and finally development of fast application to query the data.
At undergraduate level B.Sc. in bioinformatics is available. For getting admission in B.Sc candidate should complete 10+2 with physics, chemistry and biology. B.Tech in bioinformatics is also available in some of the universities. Eligibility requirements here are 10+2 with physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology is recommended. Admissions in M.Sc are available for candidates who have completed their graduation in bioinformatics/ agriculture/ MBBS/ B.Pharma/ BHMS/ BVSc. Advance diplomas in bioinformatics are available after post graduation in any of the following subjects such as M.Sc in life sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biotechnology, Biophysics, Botany, Zoology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Computer Science, Pharmacology, Agriculture, or after M.Tech or MBBS. Post graduates in life sciences and graduates in Pharmacy, Medical, Dental or in Biotech engineering are eligible for admission to M.Tech bioinformatics.
How to choose the Course/Institute
In India, bioinformatics is taught at the graduate, postgraduate, doctorates and at the post-doctorate level. The admission in course which has to be taken will depend on personal interest and also on the percentage of marks in +2 examinations or in any other qualifying examination on basis of which admission has be taken. Students can start with a graduate degree in bioinformatics, but starting with a graduate degree in basic sciences or biotechnology is a good option. Since bioinformatics is a very specialized field, so first fundamental concepts of biology have to be formed in graduation, and then students can go for specialization in bioinformatics. Further specialization at postgraduate level and PhD can be pursued. For getting admission in M.SC bioinformatics, M.Tech Bioinformatics at any of the good colleges in our country, candidate with bachelor's degree under 10+2+3 or 10+2+4 pattern of education in Physical, Biological, Agricultural, Veterinary, Fishery Sciences, Horticulture, Pharmacy, Engineering, Technology or Medicine (MBBS) with at least 55% marks are eligible to apply.
Admissions to all postgraduate and some of the graduate courses are through all India entrance exam conducted by different national and state level universities at multitude of centers. Candidates applying for M.SC programme are selected on the basis of their performance in the written test conducted nation-wide at multitude of centers. The M.Phil./Ph.D. /Ph.D. /Ph.D. candidates are short listed on the basis of written test and invited for personal interview. In addition to this, students who have qualified the CSIR/UGC NET-JRF, DBT-JRF, ICMR-JRF, GATE examinations for JRF-fellowship can directly apply for the interview, and need not appear in the written entrance examination.
Colleges, Institutions and Universities
Major institutes/universities in India:
- Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) in Bangalore offers many courses in bioinformatics and biotechnology. Web: www.ibab.ac.in.
- Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi provide course in biotechnology and biochemical engineering.
- Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur also provides various courses in bioinformatics.
- Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur provides very good courses at M.Tech level, admission is through GATE exam.
- Madurai Kamraj University also provides courses in bioinformatics at Msc, PhD level.
- The University of Pune, offers Advance Diploma in Bioinformatics.
- DOEACC Society offers DOEACC Bioinformatics 'o' & 'A' level courses (1 year duration).
- DOEACC Society, Kolkata offers DOEACC Bioinformatics 'C' level courses, which are equivalent to M.Tech.
- Advance Course in Bioinformatics is jointly organized by IICT, CDAC, JNTU, Hyderabad (6 months duration).
- Indian Institute of Information Technology Allahabad offers M.Tech in bioinformatics.
- Indian Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad also offers M.Tech in bioinformatics.
- Some National Institute of Technology like Maulana Azad NIT Bhopal, NIT Rourkela, also offers M.Tech in bioinformatics.
- JNU, New Delhi and West Bengal University of Technology both offer M.Tech in bioinformatics.
- University of Hyderabad offers 2 year M.Tech in bioinformatics. Web: www.unohyd.ernet.in.
- Calcutta university, senate house,87/1, Kolkata -700073, www.caluniv.ac.in.
- Bharathiar university, school of biotechnology,coimbatore-641046, tamilnadu, web: www.bharathiaruniv.ac.in.
- Pondicherry University, bioinformatics centre, school of life sciences, pondicherry-605014, web: www.bicpu.edu.in.
- Jamia Milia Islamia University, department of computer science, jamia nagar, new delhi-110025 offers Msc in bioinformatics as evening course. Web: www.jmi.nic.in.
- Most of the state level universities are providing Msc and PhD in bioinformatics.
Opportunities exist mainly in private organizations, for candidates having doctoral or postdoctoral experience.
Candidate having PhD and about 2-3 years of experience are employed as Bioinformatics Scientists. Although post-doctoral experience is desirable, fresh PhD candidates are also employed as junior Scientific Officers, Project Associate, and Project Assistant.
Group Leader in Multinationals companies get a pay scale of Rupees 4,50,000-6, 00,000.
Subsequent scale to Bioinformatics Scientists and Bioinformatics Researchers depends on educational qualifications and selection, but they could get pay between Rs.35,000/- to Rs.20,000/-.
Pay scale for Bioinformatics Research Associates is between Rs.2,00,000-2,25,000.