Bioinformatics is a new scientific discipline with roots in computer science, statistics and molecular biology. It was developed to cope with the output of genome sequencing initiatives, that result in an ever-increasing amount of data available about DNA (public databases currently contain over 100 Gigabases of DNA), RNA and derived proteins. Bioinformaticians apply information technology to store, retrieve and manipulate these data and employ statistical methods capable of analysing large amounts of biological data to predict gene functions and to demonstrate relationship between genes and proteins.
Supplementary advanced courses
At Wageningen the Bioinformatics programme focuses on the practical application of Bioinformatics. Depending on previous BSc degree, candidates are requested to follow supplementary advanced courses in biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, or genetics. The curriculum commences with basic training in database management, computer programming and training in elementary bioinformatics tools aimed at using existing software to collect, analyze and interpret DNA and protein sequence information and moves on to more open challenges. Advanced bioinformatics courses deal with structural and functional genomics, transcriptomics and DNA array technology data, proteomics and metabolomics data and with the emerging field of systems biology.
Depending on the candidate’s skills and interest advanced courses in 3D protein modelling, genome annotation or in software design can be taken. The last part of the programme consists of a Bioinformatics thesis period of 6 months. Typical thesis projects include genome annotation, design and testing of mutant proteins, and development of new algorithms to facilitate protein domain recognition. The duration of the MSc Bioinformatics program is 18-24 months, depending on entry qualifications. The programme commences annually in September. Under certain conditions it is possible to start in January.
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