Swati Salunkhe

Managing Director - Growth Centre India Private Limited

BIOINFORMATICS

BIOINFORMATICS

Introduction

In last decade, Bioinformatics has emerged as a new discipline. In simple terms Bioinformatics combines Biology, Mathematics, and Computer software. It involves the use of information technology in studying the life sciences, a combination of IT and biotechnology.  Thus one can say that Bioinformatics is the convergence of two technological revolutions, the explosive growth in biotechnology, paralled by the explosive growth in information technology.

Bioinformatics may therefore, be defined as a scientific discipline that encompasses all aspects of biological information, viz., acquisition, processing, storage, distribution, analysis and interpretation, that combines the tools and techniques of mathematics, computer science, and biology with the aim of understanding the biological significance of a variety of data.  In short, Bioinformatics deals with database creation, data analysis and modeling. Data capturing is done not only from printed material but also from network resources. Databases in biology are generally in the multimedia form organized in relational database model. Modeling is done not only on single biological molecule but also on multiple systems thus requiring a use of high performance computing systems.

Bioinformatics is applied in fields like molecular medicine, drug development, biotechnology, veterinary science, climate change studies, crop improvement and many such fields.  Bioinformatics is immense in scope and vast in applications.

Training

There are different programmes offered by selected Universities in India for Bioinformatics, like 4 years B. Tech., One year postgraduate diploma, two year Master’s degree and one year advanced diplomas programmes in Bioinformatics. Admission is usually on the basis of an entrance test. Non formal, short term training courses are also being offered by computer institutes. Bioinformatics demands deep knowledge of both the biological and computing disciplines.

Required Skill-set

Skills that have great value on the current bio-informatics-related job market are: sequence analysis, molecular modeling, Perl programming, Web interface design, data mining, communication skills, Internet literacy, integration of heterogeneous and distributed resources and tools, user support, virtual reality systems (esp. for real-time communication), visualization, UNIX, database retrieval.

Future Scope

There is a huge demand for trained Bioinformaticists in USA, Europe, Australia, including India. However the supply of “trained personnel” in Bioinformatics is inadequate. This sector is the quickest growing field in the country. The promising start-ups are already there in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, and Delhi. Companies like SmithKline Beecham, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Glaxo, Wellcome and other 100 companies are functioning in this area. IT majors such as Intel, IBM, Wipro are getting into this segment spurred by the promises in technological developments. There is a growing need nationally and internationally for bioinformaticians, especially graduates with a good grounding in computer science and software engineering, and an appreciation of the biological aspects of the problems to be solved.

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