By: Dr. Jeffrey Robinson
There is a high demand in industry for workers with formal training in bioinformatics and bioinformatics-related roles in the biotechnology and healthcare industries.
The demand comes from both ends of the Translational Science spectrum – from healthcare IT to computational genomics, and everything in between. Major healthcare providers, clinical IT companies, and health insurance companies are all incorporating advancements in cloud computing, health-records interoperability standards, and AI into their operations. These organizations are in a race to incorporate such ‘eHealth’ systems as the fundamental infrastructure for the new healthcare industry. On the other hand, Omics-level datasets from NextGen sequencing, RNA-seq, Proteomics, Metabolomics, Metagenomics (and all the other -omics), have become the norm for both clinical and basic research laboratories, with many such laboratories facing a bottleneck due to a lack of skilled bioinformaticians.
Students entering the job market for these types of informatics-intensive roles are required to have specialized training in a range of related subject areas. These include a basic foundation in computer science, common software productivity applications, information technology, programming fundamentals, biostatistics, data science, cloud computing, machine learning & AI applications, and bioinformatics.
In order to fulfill this demand, the TLST program developed (and received Undergraduate Student Council approval in Spring 2021) for the “Bioinformatics Track” for students in the TLST program.
UMBC’s Translational Life Science Technology (TLST) curriculum foundational-level classes in the Bioinformatics Track are required by all students in the program, and provide a fundamental background into the field: BTEC330 (Software Applications in Translational Science), BTEC350 (Translational Biostatistics), and BTEC395 (Bioinformatics).
In addition, students in the TLST Bioinformatics-track will add a course in Python programming (BTEC 362), one of two advanced-level capstone courses, either in Machine Learning with applications for bioinformatics (BTEC423), or Deep Learning with applications for biomedical image analysis (BTEC424).
The TLST Bioinformatics Track curriculum is also rounded out with bioinformatics or healthcare informatics-focused independent student research internships (BTEC495) — these can be taken either with on-campus faculty, or at local biotech/biomedical organizations.
The TLST program welcomes and invites students with an interest in computer technology, programming, and biotechnology/health IT-related interests to join the Bioinformatics Track. The future is bright, and individuals with this very portable skillset are in high demand.
The TLST Bioinformatics Curriculum: https://shadygrove.umbc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Bioinformatics-Track.pdf
TLST program description: https://shadygrove.umbc.edu/program/translational-life-science-technology/