Let’s Talk: Bioinformatics!


What is bioinformatics?

With seemingly endless sources of biological and health care data, there is a growing need to identify, compile, and analyze all of this information in an efficient manner. Bioinformaticians play an essential role in communicating research results from hundreds of studies in ways that can be easily interpreted. For example, when developing new drugs to treat cancer, it is important to consider information about drug efficacy in relation to DNA mutations to best determine how certain patients will respond to drugs . This means jobs in bioinformatics are in great demand from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

What does a bioinformatician do? What does it take to be a bioinformatician?

A bioinformatician’s primary jobs are to create a framework to manipulate data and form theories that can explain experimental results or identify relationships between tested variables . Bioinformaticians are also expected to regularly communicate with researchers to determine their analytical needs and even assist with experimental design and data collection. These responsibilities require expert knowledge in statistics and computer science, as well as familiarity in the biological techniques involved in whatever specific field of interest a bioinformatician works in (e.g., genome sequencing).

Where is the field of bioinformatics heading?

Cancer is a disease that involves many specific genetic alterations, and the optimal therapeutic approaches target cancer in many different ways. In order to treat these genetic abnormalities, which can vary greatly between cancer types and even between patients with the same cancer type, a necessary first step is to detect these genetic alterations and to determine where in the genome they reside. Biomarkers, like specific genetic mutations, can also be used to predict patient prognosis or to classify tumour origins. Bioinformaticians are at the forefront of these tasks and many others, which will ultimately assist in improving cancer patient care.


Let’s Talk: Computer Science!