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Employment Opportunities in Bioinformatics

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Employment Opportunity – Bioinformatics is the application of “information technology to the field of molecular biology.” It is an inter disciplinary field, developing methods and software tools for analysing biological data. The term Bioinformatics was coined by Pauline Hogeweg and Ben Hesper in 1970 for the study of information processes in biotic systems.  Bioinformatics is an applied science that specializes in the analysis of large quantity of biological data, particularly in the area of genomics, proteomics and molecular biology by employing computational tools.

Bioinformatics is a dynamic and fast growing interdisciplinary science present in the intersection of biology, mathematics, statics and computer sciences.

The field of Bioinformatics is one way to deal with this explosion of data. Bioinformatics is: “a mixture of the mundane and the sublime.” The mundane includes data integration, data formatting and conversion (also known as parsing), and automation- “doing a relatively straightforward analysis a million times for few days and then dealing with the volume of results got and turning them into something useful.

It’s when the useful parts start to emerge that the sublime aspects surface. Some of the most exciting stuff is working with large bodies of sequence and gene-expression the detects of patterns that come out and how they reproduce biology.

Role of Bioinformatics in R&D Sector in Employment Generation

‘Innovations in Bioinformatics’ generate new Business Insights to employ the Bioinformatics tools to manage high-throughput data from omics technologies, systems biology modeling and biomarker discovery. Knowledge management solutions required are reviewed to identify the latest developments in Bioinformatics, assess the tools and platforms that can improve drug development and benchmark effective implementation of strategies.

R&D laboratories are coordinating the analysis of increasing volumes of disparate biological data, largely comprised of gene and protein sequences. Bioinformatics has enabled data management for companies to improve their productivity within their R&D programs by identifying new drug target, diagnostic biomarkers and biomarkers of drug efficacy and toxicity. From a systems biology approach, Bioinformatics combine data into interactive models to highlight disease pathways and aid the discovery of on off-target effects of compounds.

Knowledge management solutions are crucial in both instances, enabling project teams to make informed decisions about potential new drugs. Traditional drug discovery technologies are reaching the limits of their ability to yield innovative new drugs. Consequently, pharmaceutical firms and researchers are increasingly turning to Bioinformatics technologies, which use genetic information for their functioning.

This study pinpoints opportunities and highlights potential challenges, allowing the companies to develop the most effective business plan. The Well-established, financially-stable firms are seeking technologies to develop or buy Bioinformatics software to speed up the research and development.  

Role of Bioinformatics in Data Dissemination

Most pharma company’s information resources are currently spread out and managed by different groups. Some of these will be made more widely available on a corporate Intranet, but others will remain only on locally accessible machines. The range of interfaces will be varied, with some having their original interfaces as supplied by the vendors or authors, and others having been incorporated into an HTML page or CGI forms based interface.

Genomics occupies the largest share out of the various Bioinformatics application areas; however, proteomics take the lead. Phenomenal development in Information Technology (IT) and the internet have fuelled the growth of the Bioinformatics industry. By using computer-aided drug design, drug-designing companies can save over 30% in both the cost and time to discover a new drug. Patent protection and lack of standardization remain the biggest challenge for the Bioinformatics industry.

Key financial players in the Bioinformatics market are IBM Life Sciences, Accelrys, Affymetrix, Applied Biosystems Group, Compugen Ltd, Ciphergen Bio-systems, CuraGen Corporation, Celera Genomics Group, Incyte Corporation and Tripos Inc and they generate good employment.

Key Industry players in the Bioinformatics -Accelrys Inc., Affymetrix Inc., Agilent Technologies, Inc., Applied Biosystems Group, Celera Genomics Group, Ciphergen Biosystems, Compugen Ltd., CuraGen Corporation, Gene Logic Inc., IBM Life Sciences, Incyte Corporation , LION bioscience AG, Silicon Graphics Inc., Tripos.

Bioinformatics Assists Drug Designing

New developments in Bioinformatics and genetics, such as pharmacogenetics (i.e., the study of the relationship between diseases, genes, proteins, and pharmaceuticals), will enable researchers to identify quickly a patient’s genetic predisposition to contract certain diseases as well as their potential drug response.

Proteomics meant the isolation and identification of proteins from normal versus perturbed cells. Today, proteomics tools used to link protein expression with gene expression, structural proteomics (determining large numbers of protein 3D structures by spectroscopic or computational techniques), Protein-protein interactions and biochemical pathways studies.

The main difference between the old and new paradigm is in high-throughput, parallel thinking that is now applied to huge potential of target proteins in the development of new novel drugs. The combination of proteomics, biomarkers and metabolomics (metabolites) has generated new opportunities for the designing of more effective diagnostic tools and therapy for the diseases.   

With the rising application of proteins in drug, designing is forcing the researchers to create strong new research tools and kits to rapidly screen, prepare, purify and concentrate the protein samples. The comprehensive review of opportunities in proteomics highlight a peak into encapsulated trends, search for tools to accelerate drug discovery ends with proteomics and initiative to boost proteomics research giving rise to strategic corporate activity for increasing value and rising global economy. Proteomics is an emerging science that is driving the industry from business driven economy to research driven economy.

Bioinformatics is vital for advances in the life science and will generate huge employment

The growing acceptance of bioinformatics as an important field requiring focused commercial support and activity has become a pre – requisite for firms depending on development & discovery of new drugs for patented drug solutions. The advent of bioinformatics was initiated in the industry by firms which had the foresight to establish the high core strength of this tool in gene sequencing etc where conventional methods would take year of documented research beyond the capacity purview of today’s drug firms which need to identify market opportunities and respond to the same with certified clinical result with increased speed.

In recent years, innovations where IT and the life sciences converge have created vast quantities of data. The development of automated DNA sequencing and other innovative methods have reduced the costs and time needed to discover the genetic makeup of various organisms. Additionally, innovations such as high – throughput screening and micro arrays are enabling studies of gene and protein functions (i.e., genomics and proteomics).

The expending complexity and diversity of information also poses new challenges. For example, data produced from studies of protein and gene function and interaction require the consolidation of information in various formats and from diverse sources. Additionally, data may not be in a standard or readily usable format, particularly if they are not available in electronic form or are text- based information from scientific literature, patents and clinical trials.

Critical biological information also is found throughout various scientific disciplines, such as the chemical sciences. The ability of researchers to manage and analyze these diverse and extensive data is critical to the future success of life sciences R&D.

Bioinformatics Potential and Market Growth towards employment

Today Bioinformatics goes deeper and deeper in R&D, IT and other allied domains as it continues to develop novel algorithms, methods, software’s etc. for analysis of data. Bioinformatics has lot of potential and scope in next decade by developing critical tools for the transmission of genetic information into three-dimensional world to study the interaction of proteins with themselves or other proteins and molecules.

The main challenge that lies in front of bioinformatics professionals for the next decade is to intricate the methods to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage in this space. Bioinformatics value lies in providing up- to- date analysis of the biological data and algorithms deployed to give insight into current technology market place that can be used in genomics- driven drug discovery landscape, detailing where the industry is progressing.

Bioinformatics has silently filled in the role of cost effective data analysis but next decade bioinformatics analysis will facilitate and quicken the analysis of systemic level behavior of cellular processes in order to understand the cellular processes to treat and control diseases. More recently, researchers have started using these techniques for the production of recombinant proteins.

Bioinformatics is the future of life sciences R&D as professionals will be dealing with tremendous amount of information on the biological front as bioinformatics tools would help to efficiently collect, share mine and analyze the wealth of biological and clinical data. Bioinformatics scenario for the next decade is conjectured as “Move over information age. Make room for the age of bioinformatics”.

Experts have already dubbed bioinformatics – a hybrid profession pairing biology and computer science for the understanding of systems biology for better therapeutics and healthcare systems.

Bioinformatics – enabled protein biomarker and discovery will enable the development of safer and more effective drugs, targeted therapies and molecular diagnostics. Systems biology modeling is forecast to grow at a rate of 35% over the next five years, the highest growth of any bioinformatics sector. The potential for widespread integration throughout all stages of drug discovery will act as a catalyst for this expansion. Knowledge management is currently the leading bioinformatics markets segment.

US remains the largest employment market in the world, but Asia- pacific countries, particularly India and China, are witnessing the fastest growth and are anticipated to emerge as the dominating forces in future. Bioinformatics is full of opportunities. The sector is of poised to open new avenues for the other related sectors also.

But the biggest opportunity area in the bioinformatics market will be in the drug discovery sector. Reduction of both the cost and time taken to discover a new drug due to fast development with bioinformatics tools and software zone is also making drug discovery an attractive field of venture in.

The bioinformatics employment market is stable, with many of the applications discovered being based on genomics and proteomics, which continue to boost the growth of bioinformatics tools. A greater number of R&D centers across the world are seeking a common base for the transfer of data, information and knowledge to enable an informatics-based decision support system.                 

The employment prospects in the field have been steadily increasing with more and more use of information technology in the field of molecular biology. Employment prospects are in all sectors of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, in research institution, hospitals in industry.

Some of the specific career areas that fall within the scope of bioinformatics include sequence assembly, database design and maintenance, sequence analysis, proteomics (the study of protein, particularly their structure, functions), pharmacogenomics, phar-macology, clinical pharmacologist, informatics developer, computational chemist, bio analytics and analytics etc.

The author is Research Fellow, PG Institute of Veterinary Education & Research, Jaipur. E-mail: matmanisha@gmail. com

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