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Career availability in: Computational biology, bioinformatics, biostat

  1. Sep 7, 2014 #1
    Hello friends. I am interested in what kind of job prospects there are for those who major in computational biology, bioinformatics, or biostatistics. If someone could also explain the major differences between these fields to me too, that would be very helpful.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2014 #2
    I also would like to hear about this. I am currently a math major but am thinking of switching it to Bioinformatics or if I can find it comp/ systems bio. Maybe a double major in bio would be good.

    Let me know if you find anything out Ritzycat!
  4. Sep 8, 2014 #3
    Will do! I find those fields very interesting but if it requires me to go to grad school I'd rather not deviate from my current engineering goals.
  5. Sep 9, 2014 #4
    I think you will find Engineering will have much more employment as the BS level then these fields. This is just word of mouth, but I have been told by a friend in industry the you need at minimum as MS in these fields to find meaningful work. He does have a BS with a concentration in bioinformatics ( computer science BS) and is working in the bio tech industry. But he says he is just a glorified programmer with nothing really interesting to do. Just my 2 cents and I hope others will reply as well!
  6. Sep 9, 2014 #5


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    Hi RitzyCat. In terms of your original question, computational biology involves the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modelling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavioural and social systems, and would include the foundations of computer science, applied math, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, biophysics, etc. It's similar to bioinformatics, which involves the use of computers to store and process data (in fact, I would say that bioinformatics is a subset of computational biology).

    Biostatistics is a branch of statistics that is specifically applied to problems in biology and medicine (e.g. the design and analysis of clinical trials, the analysis of pre-clinical data, statistical analysis of genomics, analysis of epidemiological data, etc.)

    From what I understand, you can work in computational biology or bioinformatics with a background in computer science, computer engineering, or applied math. Depending on what you do, it could involve anyone with just a BS to a PhD. As for biostatistics, one typically needs to complete at least a MS in either statistics or biostatistics to work in that field

    Note: I'm a biostatistician working in the industry for over 10 years and I have a MS in statistics.
  7. Sep 9, 2014 #6
    What types of careers do graduates in computational biology find at the BS level and are they wide spread?
  8. Sep 9, 2014 #7


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    I do know one graduate in the computational biology BS program who ended up working in my clinical department, but to be honest her work was unrelated to the computational biology field as far as I understand (she later left to pursue a law degree).

    I do know several people working in software development/simulation for pharma/biotech companies but these tend to be MS or PhDs.
  9. Sep 10, 2014 #8
    A graduate of the computational biophysics program at my local institution got a job at a bank writing algorithms to detect credit fraud; if I were to wildly extrapolate from this single data point, i would say that the programming/algorithm development skills obtained doing computational biophysics/bioinformatics can get you into some interesting places, if places which have nothing to do with biology.
  10. Sep 10, 2014 #9


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    My experience is in computational neuroscience. I was able to find a program doing research that I was interested in through an applied math department. Basically, I mathematically model neurons based on physiological parameters of a real system and try to duplicate the dynamics of that system to quantify and support qualitative models that the biologists (experimental neuroscientists) develop.

    Before that, I did more theoretical neuroscience work in a physics department, where the research was more exploratory for an already established neuron model.

    I can't tell you how wide spread they are, but there are computational and theoretical neuroscience programs popping up at universities across the states.
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