The Department of Biomolecular Engineering offers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in bioinformatics. Students majoring in another, related subject may minor in bioinformatics. Also, bioinformatics students may apply in their senior year for our combined B.S./graduate program, which streamlines the path to the advanced degree.
Bioinformatics combines mathematics, science, and engineering to explore and understand biological data from high-throughput experiments, such as genome sequencing and gene expression chips. The program builds on the research and academic strengths of the faculty in the Center for Biomolecular Science & Engineering. One notable output from our research is that UCSC is the primary release site for the public version of the human genome: http://genome.ucsc.edu. We are also a major player in protein-structure prediction: protein-prediction servers.
The immense growth of biological information stored in computerized databases has led to a critical need for people who can understand the languages, tools, and techniques of mathematics, science, and engineering. A classically trained scientist may be unfamiliar with the statistical and algorithmic knowledge required in this field. A classically trained engineer may be unfamiliar with the chemistry and biology required in the field. This program strives for a balance of the two: an engineer focused on the problems of the underlying science, or, conversely, a scientist focused on the use of engineering tools for analysis and discovery.
The undergraduate bioinformatics degree program prepares students for graduate school or a career in the fast-paced pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries.
The undergraduate degree program in bioinformatics builds a solid foundation in the constituent areas of the field. Students complete core sequences in mathematics (including calculus, statistics, and discrete mathematics), science (including biology, chemistry, and biochemistry), and engineering (including programming, algorithms, and databases). All students take core bioinformatics courses and study the ethical, legal, and social implications of this new technology.
We regard the undergraduate program as an honors program, suitable for those students who would be in the top 10-15% if they took computer science or biology. Because we have to cover so much breadth in the course work, we want students to take honors courses and get the most out of each course, and we expect our students to do a lot of learning beyond what is covered in courses. We encourage our students to take part in bioinformatics research projects as undergraduates.