Prof Indira Ghosh, Dean of school of computational and integrative sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University answers a few queries on the career scope in bioinformatics
What are the career options after studying bioinformatics?
Research in the fields of biotechnology, academics, teaching and industry involved in biotechnology, pharmacy, SW developers in applied biology like gene sequencing etc.
Should one study statistics or computer science at the undergraduate level to pursue a career in bioinformatics?
To achieve success in bioinformatics it is mandatory to learn graduate level statistics, computer languages and mathematics, at least higher secondary level.
What level of education is mandatory to become a professional? Is PhD a must or can a PG can also find a good job?
PhD is not a must but it is advisable to have PhD if one likes to grow in the field. MTech or MSc with strong knowledge/ competency in computer languages like C++, Java and BioPerl will be sufficient for industry positions.
What are the sectors wherein one can find employment after studying bioinformatics?
In pharmaceutical industry, data management in clinical testing, software developer in biological instruments are the major industries looking for such a background, though many outsourcing companies which are associated with large data management support for health associated industry in USA are also a possibility.
What are the good universities which have good department and faculty in this discipline?
It is very difficult to list all of them but DBT-supported few centers situated at JNU, University of Pune, Madurai Kamraj University, Anna University, Chennai, provide quality teaching in the required subjects. Most others provide teaching in basic syllabus but differ in the teaching of programming languages, mathematics and statistics. Extensive practical training in the subjects is required to uplift the quality of outcome. DBT supported a national examination BINC, established since 2005, which provides self-testing for the students and also supports scholarships for the qualified students for future PhD.
In India, at what level is the industry for bioinformatics professionals — nascent, growing or mature? What do you expect from the future of this industry?
In India industry is not capitalising the information resources well and bioinformatics-led research projects are not yet established in the pharmaceutical industry. Challenges to come up with the informatics and design based drug has hardly been accepted in the Indian pharma industry, the knowledge is underutilised.
There is large scope of expansion in informatics -ased research in both the clinical and pharmaceutical field where one links disease with drugs. Also, in addition to this, the software development to integrate laboratory instruments with sophisticated bio-instrument (like sequencer, mass spectroscopy etc.) and data analysis is still a great new world which can be explored in great depth by the SW industry in India.