Bioinformatics Specialist Career Information
What a Bioinformatics Specialist does
Research in such a complex field as human science generates a lot of data. This information needs to be processed so that it may be understood properly. In Bio-informatics, you will use computer software tools for database creation, data management, data warehousing and global communication network. You will then integrate them with the user interface. What this means is that you will understand the science of biology and convert it into a mathematical form using a computer.
Then you will make a system where in a scientists will feed in some numbers and the computer spits out the result on a paper or a 3D image on the computer screen.
Bioinfomatics is used in areas such as chemical engineering, drug design, vaccine design, etc. Through Bio-informatics, you will help scientists determine the structure of cells and proteins, how they behave and how they react with other cells and chemical compounds.
For instance, you can look at a virus and accordingly design a drug, which will be capable of killing it and stimulate its effectiveness on the computer! Now imagine how easy it has become for scientists trying out the millions of permutations and combinations of genetic code.
You can find gainful employment at various Research institutions and companies like Satyam, Wipro, TCS and Reliance who employ people having bioinfomatic skills. Several companies dedicated to bioinformatics like Strand Life Sciences and Avestha Gengraine Technologies Pvt ltd have come into existence. Pharmaceutical majors like GVK Biosciences, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Biocon, Astra Zeneca and Ranbaxy have forayed into this discipline creating more jobs.
In Bio-informatics, you could start off as a Research Associate in various projects organised by the Department of Biotechnology or by institutes such as TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore. According to your level of experience you will slowly rise in terms of responsibilities in these projects. Alternatively, you could also take up teaching positions in Bio-informatics at these institutes.
There is a huge demand for trained Bioinformaticists in USA, Europe and Australia. These countries have taken a lead in research in the field of genetics and it is here that the best prospects lie. Even insurance firms are looking towards biotechnology companies to help them profile individuals. All this is good news for Bioinformaticists.
Abilities & Traits Required
To pursue a career in Bio-informatics, you will also need to have good analytical and logical skills coupled with an inquisitive mind. This is science on the cutting edge and most of the time you will be expected to come up with new ideas or solutions to tackling complex matters.
You must have tons and tons of patience. In Bio-informatics, you may be working on a project for years on end and sometimes you may face problems that seem insurmountable. You should be able to think clearly and not lose your head in these situations. In Bio-informatics, you should also have excellent communication skills, as you will be required to explain complex issues in layman terms.
You would need to have sound knowledge of molecular biology and Knowledge of UNIX/Linux the operating system used for many computational biology programs.
Academically, you have two options to enter the field of Bio-informatics. You can be a Biological Scientist who likes computers or a computer geek who is fascinated by the living world. However this is a very specialised area of study. So you need to do specific courses in Bio-infomatics.
A course in bioinformatics is suitable for those with a graduation or post-graduation in molecular biology, chemistry, genetics, pharmacy, microbiology, veterinary sciences, physics, mathematics, and also engineers, IT professionals, PhD's and medicos.
Knowledge of programming languages such as Perl or Python, which are popular in the field of Bioinformatics will be helpful. You will learn to develop scientific software for biologists. This will include Computer Programming, Computer Graphics as well as simulation and modelling structures related to chemistry and biology.
The Bioinfomatics Centre at Pune is one such institute offering a post graduate programme. For this course, you need to have a Post Graduate Degree in any Science Faculty, MVSc, MSc (Agriculture), MPharm., MBBS or MD. People with ME, BTech, MCA or BE degrees are also eligible for this course.
Salary packages in the field of Bio-informatics, depend on the capability and experience of the person. Starting salaries can be anywhere from Rs 10000-20000 per month. The salaries offered can start from Rs 180000 -200000 per annum and can reach as high as Rs 1200000-1500000 per annum based on the experience and type of skills.