Do you like solving complex problems?
Research laboratories and companies are crying out for bioinformaticians, a relatively new career that has developed to meet the need for analysing big data sets in biological fields from cancer research to understanding what mutant genes are doing in plants.
The University of Queensland (UQ) offers postgraduate programs in bioinformatics, enabling you to broaden your skill set. With a worldwide shortage of bioinformaticians and genome scientists, career opportunities for graduates with bioinformatics skills are extensive.
Recent UQ Master of Bioinformatics graduate Stephen Fletcher said bioinformatics was the science of creating, managing and analysing biological data.
“Industry has changed so much in the past few years with the advent of next generation sequencing,” he said. “If you don’t have bioinformatics skills you will find it hard to land a job in biological analysis.
“In China, for example, there is a massive amount of financial support for genetic sequencing, so you can see there will be a great need for bioinformaticians to analyse and interpret data.”
Mr Fletcher said he would advise anyone who was interested in this field to “just do it.”
“The employment reasons are very good, and almost all positions you see advertised in this field require bioinformatics skills.”
An agricultural science graduate from UQ, Mr Fletcher returned to part-time study in the Master of Bioinformatics program in 2013 while working in Professor Bernie Carroll’s lab in UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.
“As I learned something I was able to immediately use it in my job,” he said.
“Before I did this program I didn’t know how to code or write software but now I enjoy writing the majority of programs to analyse big data sets, and I can also use some off-the-shelf programs.
“I work with academics to solve problems such as understanding plant gene mutations or how viruses are infecting plants, for Bernie’s group and for Associate Professor Neena Mitter’s group in the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation.
“While I was studying I was able to tackle research projects in different fields to my plant background, such as cancer genomics and bacterial sequencing data.”
Mr Fletcher said working as a bioinformatician was “mentally stimulating.”
“It’s not repetitive and you can use your skills in applied and basic research. If you like problem solving, you will find bioinformatics study rewarding,” he said.
“Mid-career researchers will find this knowledge useful in their careers and I know more people with PhDs are going back to learn bioinformatics skills.”
International student Patricia Vera Wolf of Chile said that as a biotechnologist with no experience in programming, she was interested in developing her informatics skills.
“Most research programs assume a computational background, but the Master of Bioinformatics at UQ offers general programming courses,” she said.
“This program really provides you with the practical skills needed to succeed in a research environment.”
Postgraduate studies in bioinformatics can help you find employment in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, research organisations and governments in roles such as:
- genome scientist
- biomedical computer scientist
- clinical data manager
- medical writer/technical writer
- research scientist
- software/database programmer.
UQ’s Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics will teach you how bioinformatics is changing the way we interpret scientific data and make scientific discoveries. You are able to complete the program in a semester full-time, or part-time over a year or two if you wish to work concurrently.
UQ also offers a full suite of postgraduate bioinformatics programs including the Master of Bioinformatics (#16 credit points), Master of Bioinformatics (#24 credit points), Master of Bioinformatics Research Extensive (#24 credit points) and a Master of Bioinformatics Research Extensive (#32 credit points). Contact your UQ representative for more details.
If you’re a prospective international student, and want to study at UQ, you should apply directly to the International Admissions Section of The University of Queensland.
Or you can download the undergraduate or postgraduate study guides on your computer, iphone or tablet at: http://future-students.uq.edu.au/study-guide-app
Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics – CRICOS Code 077533A
Master of Bioinformatics #16 credit points – CRICOS Code 076218J
Master of Bioinformatics #24 credit points – CRICOS Code 076217K
Master of Bioinformatics Research Extensive #24 credit points – CRICOS Code 085554G
Master of Bioinformatics Research Extensive #32 credit points – CRICOS Code 082610F