Bioinformatics is a hybrid science that develops software tools to understand biological data to support multiple areas of scientific research, including biomedicine. It is a multidisciplinary field that incorporates analytics and data visualization to make sense of massive amounts of data produced every day.
The US National Human Genome Research Institute defines Bioinformatics thus: “Bioinformatics is a field of computational science that has to do with the analysis of sequences of biological molecules. [It] usually refers to genes, DNA, RNA, or protein, and is especially useful in comparing genes and other sequences in proteins and other sequences within an organism or between organisms, watching evolutionary relationships between organisms, and using the patterns that exist across DNA and protein sequences to work out what their function is.”
In today’s technology landscape, the volume of data has grown exponentially, in large part to the increasing repositories of rich biodata from the fields of genomics and molecular biology. According to reportsanddata.com, the global bioinformatics market was valued at $7.95 billion in 2019 and is forecast to reach $19.3 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 13.5%.
“The Asia-Pacific region is estimated to register the highest CAGR during the forecast period owing to the high incidence of chronic diseases, expanding research in the field of drug discovery, and increasing investment within the research and development activities within the genomics and proteomics applications. In this region, the countries such as India, China, and Japan show promising developments in the bioinformatics market in the foreseeable future,” it said.
Graduating from the best Indian medical colleges could give you an added advantage to gain entry into the career.
Who is a Bioinformatician
A bioinformatician or a computational biologist uses scientific knowledge and information technology expertise to gather and analyze databases of biological information. They develop mathematical models for statistical analysis and run simulations to interpret patterns.
A bioinformatician is also known as a biostatistician or computational biologist.
A Computational Biologist works in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, and biotechnology industries, as well as research institutions, hospitals, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.
After completing a Bioinformatics degree, one can work in both private and public hospitals, as well as teach in both private and public universities. Likewise, bioinformaticians also work in private and public sector scientific research institutes and contract research organizations. Specialized courses are available in some of the top universities in India & abroad.
The majority of them, however, work in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Why choose a career in Bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is the science of storing, retrieving, and analyzing vast quantities of biological data. Therefore, it is a highly interdisciplinary area that includes biologists, molecular life scientists, computer scientists, and mathematicians, among other specialists. For healthcare workers such as doctors, clinicians, and nurses, bioinformatics is a thriving discipline.
Professional development opportunities in this field of evidence-based medicine have been growing steadily in recent times. As a result, bioinformatics is increasingly becoming a critical part of the research process. After completing a degree in bioinformatics, you may be called upon to help prepare reports and scientific journal articles as well.
Bioinformatics is beneficial in career growth and job opportunities
Bioinformatics is said to offer many job prospects and career advancement opportunities. Let’s look at some of them. According to a piece of writing in science mag org, “For life scientists expertly and an interest in bioinformatics, computing, statistics, and related skill sets, the work outlook couldn’t be rosier. Big pharma, biotech, and software companies are clamouring to hire professionals with experience in bioinformatics and therefore the identification, compilation, analysis, and visualization of giant amounts of biological and health care information.”
According to the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, jobs in the computer-based analysis are projected to grow 15% by 2029 (nearly four times the national average), with the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology fields at the forefront.
As mentioned earlier, the pharmaceutical industry employs the most number of bioinformaticians. In addition, pharmaceutical companies also use biological and genomic data to produce new drugs for which they require bioinformatics specialists. Pharmaceutical firms also create new medical therapies and products. Other significant employers are government-run hospitals and healthcare organizations, research firms that specialize in bioinformatics, and the tech industry. On the other hand, the hospital industry is more inclined to give opportunities to those bioinformatics experts who have a clinical background from the best Indian medical colleges. One can also look out for a medical coder course along with other options.
What salary can a computational biologist expect to earn?
As with all jobs, salaries depend on qualification, experience, and work settings. According to academics.com, a bioinformatician in Germany, for example, can earn anything between € 24,000 per year to a gross annual salary of about €70,000. In the United States, bioinformatician salaries typically start from $48,670 and go up to $133,080 a year.
According to Northeastern University, typical job responsibilities include the following:
- Bioinformatics as a career oversees a laboratory information management system
- Design strategies for DNA, RNA, and protein sequence analysis
- Develop algorithms to support next-generation sequencing
- Conduct quantitative analysis of biological images
- Evaluate drug candidates for his or her value as targeted therapies
- Assist in developing more efficient methods of food production
- Develop systems for analyzing terrain using remote sensor data
- Create data visualization for use in reports
Some of the job titles in the field of Bioinformatics are:
- Bioinformatics Analyst
- Medical Coder
- Clinical Bioinformatician
Courses in Bioinformatics
Master’s courses & PhD degrees are offered by many institutions around the world, including the technical colleges or universities in India. However, even the best Indian medical colleges have not started to embrace interdisciplinary educational courses in healthcare. Johns Hopkins University, Harvard Extension School, Northeastern University, and UC San Diego are some of the renowned institutions offering bioinformatics degrees. Likewise, many institutes also offer online learning courses.
Bioinformatics vs Clinical Practice
What explains the popularity of Bioinformatic careers? The reasons are many. Firstly, a career in Bioinformatics provides greater job security compared to other healthcare careers. Secondly, one advantage of Bioinformatics over clinical practice is the opportunity for further research. Thirdly, a career in Bioinformatics offers a greater chance for one to enjoy a better work-life balance. Last but not the least, a bioinformatician or a computational biologist can expect to have higher job satisfaction than perhaps a physician.
Bioinformatics as a career has many advantages, as seen from above. The reach of Bioinformatics is expanding as the need for innovations in medical science grows, as described in this article. As a result, in several countries, it offers some of the most well-paid jobs. It is also a rapidly growing field in India, so you can make a career here as well.