What Is It?
Bioinformatics incorporates computer science, statistics, and information technology to create tools for processing and analyzing biological data. Computational biology is the advancement of understanding of living systems through computation.
In practice, the two fields overlap, and the two terms often are used interchangeably. The skills of both are used by researchers who want to develop their own tools and methods to explore and process data in the service of new discoveries, analysts who process data for others, and software engineers who write the software that researchers and analysts use.
At Illinois Tech, the bioinformatics major blends courses in biology, chemistry, and physics with courses in programming, statistics, and other methods, producing graduates who are both strong in science, and the ability to develop and use tools for processing data, and advancing the knowledge of science.
Our program is scientifically rigorous, particularly in the physical sciences, while providing students with in-demand programming and other skills. It features a solid, balanced offering in STEM courses, while other programs may be more biased in one direction (biology) or the other (computer science).
Courses include programming in Perl, C++ and Java; data structure and algorithms; data mining; statistics; human biology; genetics; genomics and transcriptomics; and more. See below.
This approach follows Illinois Tech's active learning philosophy. Illinois Tech is one of the few universities in the country requiring you to work with teams of students from across disciplines to solve problems.
You can choose from two tracks:
- Applied Bioinformatics has more required and elective courses in computer science.
- Computational Biology has more required and elective courses in biology.
Most bioinformatics positions require an advanced degree. The Illinois Tech major helps prepare you for graduate school, as well as entry-level technical positions.
- B.S. in Bioinformatics
- Minor in Bioinformatics
- Co-terminal degree in Biology (B.S.) and Computer Science (M.S.)
Bioinformatics emerged in the 1970s. Processing biological data has become increasingly important with the growth of huge datasets, such as DNA data. As we move to the era of personalized genomics for medical purposes, the amount of data to analyze will be staggering. For example, sequencing the genomes of all Americans would generate exabytes of data.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information on the outlook for people in bioinformatics, it forecasts a 14 percent annual growth for computer and information research scientists from 2014-2024, and $111,840 median pay in 2016.
Grand View Research in San Francisco predicts the global computational biology market will be worth $13.6 billion by 2026, driven by growth in programs to sequence genomes to better understand biological systems, and clinical studies in pharmacogenomics and pharmacokinetics for novel drug discovery studies.
Our program strengths:
- Courses from biology, applied mathematics, and computer science departments
- Strong science and technology fundamentals
- Research opportunities for select students
- Program head Jean-François Pombert, associate professor of biology, whose expertise includes comparative genomics, computational biology/bioinformatics, and high-throughput DNA sequencing.
- Illinois Tech’s traditional strengths in technology and new Center for Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing (CISC)
- ISCB – International Society for Computational Biology https://www.iscb.org/
- AMIA – American Medical Informatics Association https://www.amia.org/
Jean-Francois Pombert, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
Illinois Institute of Technology