Bioinformatics is an amalgamation of biology and informatics and refers to the branch of life sciences which uses computational methods to analyse biological data.
Machines analyse samples of tissue, blood, saliva etc, creating massive amounts of data, which then needs to be analysed by a Bioinformatician. Bioinformaticians apply advanced statistical methods to spot patterns and trends in the data, identifying biomarkers which help us to better understand disease, advancing medical research and drug discovery.
To use the information most effectively, research and drug companies use bioinformaticians to help seek out the answers in the numbers. Suitable candidates can be life scientists with expertise or an interest in bioinformatics, computer science and statistics – or indeed computer scientists with an interest in biology.
There is a vast array of opportunities within this up and coming specialism, particularly in the rapidly expanding Genomics industry. Bioinformatics jobs include: Bioinformatician, Computational Biologist, Software Engineer, Data Scientist, Statistical Geneticist, Data Manager, Data Curator, Computational Biologist, Cancer Analyst, Rare Disease Analyst, Genomics Scientists, Genetic Councillor, Statistician and Biostatistician.
The most commonly recruited roles under the bioinformatics umbrella are bioinformatician and computational biologist:
The primary role of the bioinformatician is to create the biological data for analysis and interpretation. To do this a bioinformatician needs to structure the sequence information from a biological sample and put it into a pipeline so it can be analysed by a bioinformatic analyst.
The bioinformatician job role requires advanced computer science expertise as they must be able to take large outputs of data and create a NGS pipeline so it can be analysed in a structured way. The pipeline programme for the data is created by a computational biologist using a universal computer language like Python, so bioinformaticians also need to have relevant skills and experience of software development and building platforms for data analysis. All data and analysis will be recorded in a central database, so candidates should also be familiar with LIMS or Bioconductor systems.
Job opportunities are many and varied and include high profile clinical studies like the Genomics England 100,000 Genomes Project. If the subject matter being researched is more chemistry-based, the equivalent bioinformatician job role would be cheminformatician.
The starting salary for a bioinformatician or cheminformatician is £35,000.
Each company structures their salary and benefits differently and some of the perks are fantastic!