Learn bioinformatics with online courses and programs
What is bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is the use of computers and technology to store, study, and analyze biological genetic data, such as DNA or amino acid sequences.Footnote 1 Bioinformaticians create and use programmatic tools that filter massive amounts of biological data, develop sequencing methods, and analyze sequences for meaningful trends and insights. When organized properly, biological data can help scientists, programmers, and researchers expand their knowledge of health, diseases, and medical care.
For example, bioinformatics analysis is used in genome sequencing, in which raw data is collected from biological samples, such as blood. DNA sequencing like this can help clinicians make rare diagnoses and track infectious organisms.Footnote 2
The Human Genome Project was one of the first large scale bioinformatics efforts where an international group of researchers spent 13 years figuring out how to generate the first sequence of the human genome.Footnote 3
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Bioinformatics course curriculum
An online bioinformatics course can teach learners how to identify and handle biological and genetic data. This knowledge can have many potential applications, including disease research, genome analysis, medicinal development, and more.
A foundational course in bioinformatics and biological data may cover:
Understanding how biological data is collected and processed
Using biomedical big data resources such as TCGA, G-DOC, and UNIPROT
Analyzing genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data with online tools
Finding the value of big data in biomedical research and clinical practice
Creating bioinformatic algorithms
More technical courses may be data science-focused, teaching learners about topics such as string processing and pattern matching. Computer science and programming skills can be useful for the development of algorithms that conduct genomic sequencing or statistical analysis of biological data. A bioinformatics curriculum may also cover programming languages such as C++ or Python and software development.
Consider how online learning can help you meet your goals. edX offers learners a variety of educational pathways to upskill, including specialized boot camps and courses. Learners interested in more comprehensive programs can also pursue bachelor's degrees or, for more experienced individuals, master’s degrees in a variety of subjects
Explore bioinformatics jobs
Bioinformatics influences a wide range of research and clinical areas. Understanding how to collect, study, and analyze biological data is a useful skill in a variety of careers and industry areas.
Some examples of careers that could use bioinformatics research and programming skills include:Footnote 4
Your area of interest, prior experience, and goals will determine what career and educational path makes the most sense to pursue. For example, someone interested in biology and epidemiology will need to meet different qualifications for jobs in those fields than someone working primarily in engineering.
How to become a bioinformatics analyst online
Bioinformaticians and professionals in related careers use a variety of skills depending on their focus and job title. More research-based positions will likely require topic-specific knowledge, while programming careers could ask for expertise in coding languages and algorithms.
Whatever your interest, experience, and goals, there are courses and pathways available to help you. If you are interested in adding new skills to your resume, explore how online learning opportunities such as a coding boot camp can help you build new skills. Every role is different. For example, some employers may ask for a bachelor’s degree in computer science while others may require a master’s degree in data science. Before setting down a specific learning pathway, research the roles that you are interested in and align your coursework with your professional aspirations.