What is Bioinformatics?
This is probably the number one question we bioinformaticians get. The official definition of "Bioinformatics" by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) captures the true breadth of the field:
Bioinformatics is the research, development, or application of computational tools and approaches for expanding the use of biological, medical, behavioral or health data, including those to acquire, store, organize, archive, analyze, or visualize such data. (http://www.bisti.nih.gov/)
The field of bioinformatics emerged from the massive databases generated by worldwide DNA-sequencing projects and by three-dimensional protein structure studies. Because these projects as well as the advances in molecular biology are yielding new data at unimaginably fast rates, comprehensive interpretation necessitates highly sophisticated analytical tools. The applications of bioinformatics are vast - from the Human Genome Project to the development of disease-resistant crops; from drug development to cancer diagnostics. Bioinformatics is a critical component to research in the life sciences.
What can I do with a degree in Bioinformatics?
The new field of bioinformatics has already led to countless scientific, agricultural and medical breakthroughs, including the development of disease-resistant crops and new cancer diagnostic methods and treatments. According to a 2017 market report, “Bioinformatics Market—Global Industry Size, Market Share, Trends, Analysis and Forecast, 2017–2025,” published by Key Market Insights, the global bioinformatics market is estimated to reach market size worth $32.5 Billion in 2025! This is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 19%. This increase is largely due to the fact that bioinformatics has emerged as a key tool in the life sciences and is majorly responsible for driving the global market. North America, in particular, is in desperate need of qualified researchers in the field.
Individuals with a BS and/or MS degree in Bioinformatics can find jobs in research environments (universities, research institutions, hospitals, federal research institutes, etc.), pharmaceutical companies, the health care industry, consumer product R&D, software development companies, etc. In the US, entry level Bioinformatics positions start on average ~$41K.