New bioinformatics program is the first of its kind in the state

UAB will launch a new Bachelor of Science degree program in bioinformatics this fall.

Written by: Tiffany Westry

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bioinformatics streamThe University of Alabama at Birmingham will launch a new Bachelor of Science degree in bioinformatics this fall. The interdisciplinary program is the first of its kind in the state.

Bioinformatics is the science of collecting and analyzing complex biological data such as genetic codes. The field combines computer science, biology, chemistry, mathematics, genetics and engineering. The bioinformatics program at UAB will train students in basic concepts and skills to perform computational analysis of biological data, including the human genome, creating a well-trained workforce who can take on future health care challenges in the state of Alabama and beyond.

“With the sequencing of the human genome, scientists now have access to extremely large amounts of biological data,” said Yuilang Zheng, Ph.D., chair in the Department of Computer Science. “In order for this data to help doctors and researchers better understand living systems and guide treatment of human diseases, it must be organized, managed and analyzed. This new program builds on an array of disciplines, giving students a marketable degree that will provide cutting-edge employment opportunities, as well as a platform for success in graduate school, medical school and other clinical-professional schools.”

Graduates of the program will be at the front lines of the emerging disciplines of biocomputing, computational biology and bioinformatics. The skills obtained can be of use in both basic and applied research in the academic, government, pharmaceutical, medical or biotechnology sectors at various levels.

“This program is unique in its leveraging of faculty expertise across multiple departments and schools to prepare students for the exciting opportunities in the interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics, said James Cimino, M.D., director of the UAB School of Medicine Informatics Institute. “Graduates of the program will be in the enviable position of being able to choose between immediate gainful employment using what they learned in college or seek further advanced bioinformatics degrees, including ones currently under development at UAB.”

Career opportunities may include bioinformatics analysts, bioinformatics application developers, bioinformatics software engineers, computational biologists and research specialists, data managers, and data analysts.

The program is a collaboration between the departments of Biology and Computer Science in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, along with the Department of Genetics in the UAB School of Medicine and the UAB Informatics Institute.

For information about the Bachelor of Science degree in bioinformatics, visit the program website.