Online Courses in Bioinformatics
The following bioinformatics courses are available in fully online and/or hybrid formats:
- Fundamentals of Bioinformatics Course: This class introduces bioinformatics on a molecular level, including basics of the genome, sequence analysis of DNA and protein, and chemical and biological structures. Programs may also introduce the topic of data mining in this class, with details of relevant computer systems and information retrieval techniques.
- Biochemistry Course: Since biochemistry is a building block for bioinformatics, students take this course near the beginning of the program. Basic chemistry principles are presented, such as the formation of chemical bonds, structure of molecular agents, chemical metabolism and kinetics. Students use computer-based models, paving the way for advanced molecular modeling classes.
- Data Mining Techniques Course: Generally offered midway through a bioinformatics program, this online class covers techniques for successful interpretation of biological data gathered at the molecular level. The class may also examine the management of open-source software used to collect and interpret the data. Real-world examples of database management from the commercial, medical and biological sectors are discussed. Students learn to apply algorithms to database analysis through software manipulation and may be asked to collaborate on a class-wide project to promote understanding of the topic.
- Molecular Biology and Modeling Course: This advanced class is generally offered toward the end of a bioinformatics program and covers the computer-based modeling and subsequent analysis of molecules. Students learn algorithms necessary to predict molecular structures in 3-dimensional space via professional bioinformatics software. The class may also review basic molecular biology and function.
- Bioinformatics Final Project or Research Course: Online bioinformatics programs may conclude with a capstone that involves an independent research project or in-depth examination of a large-scale genome database, such as the Human Genome Project. Students may be required to write a thesis or submit results of intensive in-class projects.
- Bioethics Course: This course aims to explore morality as applied to the sphere of biological sciences, especially to cases involving human and animal subjects. Examples discussed in the class include animal and human testing, organ transplants, and disclosure of data collected on living subjects. Students are presented with relevant contemporary issues that the field of bioethics faces today.
- Proteomics Course: In this course, students learn to use tools like threading and homology model building to create representations of proteins and functional motifs at both the three-dimensional and sequence levels. They also gain experience using bioinformatics tools to predict secondary structure, tertiary structure, post-translational modification sites, active sites and binding sites.
- Genomics Course: This course focuses on the use of bioinformatics tools for genomic analysis. Genome structure, function and regulation are reviewed, and students learn how microarray technology can be applied to measure expression, protein-DNA interactions and chromatin structure. Statistical analysis, predictive inference and causal inference may also be covered.
- Perl and BioPerl Course: This course provides an introduction to the Perl programming language and its uses in relation to genomics and proteomics data. Emphasis is placed on BioPerl, the bioinformatics toolbox.
With the expansion of knowledge regarding DNA and protein sequences, this field of bioinformatics has experienced significant growth over the last few decades. There are several schools that offer online master's degrees and graduate certificates in bioinformatics. They are designed for graduate students or working scientists who want to study emerging technology. Before enrolling, applicants may need to have completed specific undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry and math. Online studies in bioinformatics may also be available as single classes, lectures and information databases. In addition, some campus-based degree programs may have an online component. It is important to note that some online bioinformatics courses may be presented in a hybrid format. This includes online participation as well as some on-campus work, such as collaboration with other students on a capstone research project.
Online courses in bioinformatics are available at the graduate level. Most commonly, they are part of online master's degree or graduate certificate programs in the subject.