Bioinformatics is a new scientific discipline with roots in computer science, statistics and molecular biology. It was developed to cope with the output of genome sequencing initiatives, that result in an ever-increasing amount of data available about DNA (public databases currently contain over 100 Gigabases of DNA), RNA and derived proteins. Bioinformaticians apply information technology to store, retrieve and manipulate these data and employ statistical methods capable of analysing large amounts of biological data to predict gene functions and to demonstrate the relationship between genes and proteins.
There is a world-wide lack in trained Bioinformaticians resulting in long lists of positions that remain open. Some years ago Wageningen University in the Netherlands started with one of the first fully dedicated MSc curricula in Bioinformatics. Graduates are already in high demand both in industry and in academic research including medical sciences.
Depending on the candidate's skills and interest advanced courses in 3D protein modelling, genome annotation or in software design can be taken. The last part of the programme consists of a Bioinformatics thesis period of 6 months. Typical thesis projects include genome annotation, design and testing of mutant proteins, and development of new algorithms to facilitate protein domain recognition. The programme commences annually in September and February.
Your future career
Bioinformatics is a new fast growing field of research poorly served by traditional curricula in Life Sciences. As the demand has outpaced the supply of bioinformaticians the first job after graduation is often a PhD project at a research institute or at an University in or outside the Netherlands. Read more about career perspectives and opportunities after finishing the programme.