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Programs Which PhD program in Physics is about Bioinformatics

  1. Dec 3, 2014 #1
    Hi, anybody knows any Physics PhD program concentrated in Bioinformatics or any Bioinformatics program which admits Physics students?
    Thank you in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Bioinformatics is usually under the Biology Department as a cross-disciplinary degree.

    As an example, here's Duke University's summary of the degree:


    I think any Physics student could apply without a problem as you have the math and the computer skills (or could learn them easily) and all you need is an understanding of biology principles, DNA....
  4. Dec 3, 2014 #3
    Hi, thank you so much for your kind reply. I just checked its website and it says they require the students to have some course in Biology, Chemistry in college level, but I have none of them. I also contacted some other schools, and they said it's hard for me to get into the funded PhD program. I can apply to the Master's but have to pay for it, but I don't have the money. Do you know any funded programs not hard to get in?
  5. Dec 4, 2014 #4


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    Here's something that puzzles me. Did you come about your desire to specialize in this "bioinformatics" late in your academic life? After all, this is not really an area that is well-known and a popular route among physics degree holders. One would think that if this is something you were aiming for early on, then you would have realized that you would need those bio and chem courses, or at the very least, you would have an innate interest in those courses as electives.

    So your school never require even a chemistry class for physics students?

  6. Dec 4, 2014 #5


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    Howdy! I worked doing bioinformatics professionally. If you find that you can't get into the field by doing a PhD in a field specifically called bioinformatics, there exist other routes. I came into it from a cross CS/Statistics background. I'm sure you can probably manage your way into it way a Physics/CS ,Physics/Stats, along with some self-studying of some basics biology principles. The techniques you need to handle bioinformatics are essentially the same skills you need to handle big data. Learn one, you essentially prepare yourself for the other.
  7. Dec 4, 2014 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Good advice, also there was a book written some time ago with the humorous title of:

    Bioinformatics for Dummies

    That covered a lot of the tasks and tools needed to work in the Bioinformatics field. It may be dated now since the filed is moving pretty fast these days.


    and there's a more recent book by Model thats more recent and goes into using Python (some BioInformatics folks still use Perl for many tasks):

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  8. Dec 5, 2014 #7
    Nowadays you get a MSc in Bioinformatics. Many universities have a department of bioinformatics. Where I study they don't have a BSc of bioinf but they do have a master and a faculty. I do know of other places with a BSc in bioinf though.

    So you do an MSc Bioinformatics, then thesis and PhD at that faculty. The field is progressing fast enough and has specialized knowledge and skills more and more that you can't just transition in it from CS or physics by reading a 'for dummies' book.

    People here like to say that physicists can do anything. Surely they can do a lot. But physicists aren't mathematicians and they can't program like CS majors and they will generally have no biology credentials whatsoever.

    If a biologist remembers hundreds of proteins and their interrelationships during 5 to 6 years of study and 4 years of PhD, and they also have lab skills you may or may not need, you can't just 'learn that as you go along' because you are a physicists.

    Also, not all physicists can program. And people that can program aren't valuable. People that program very well are.

    Now physicists can work on bioinformatics; as physicists doing physicist things.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
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