Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Course chat
‘Mathematical acumen, understanding of biological sciences vital’

Dr Sudhir Kumar
Dr Sudhir Kumar

Dr Sudhir Kumar, coordinator, Bioinformatics section, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, answers some questions related to the field.How would you define the concept of bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics is a new branch of science that seeks to translate the complex genomic sequences into structural and functional aspects of bio-molecules. It is of immense use to the life-scientists, as it develops ready-to-use databases of the huge and diverse genomic content. A computer is the most significant tool in this area of study.

What is the significance of this discipline?

As of today, the whole genomic sequences of more than 300 organisms have been completed. These sequences need to be translated into structures and functions to understand the role of genes and proteins in various metabolic processes. This knowledge is of vital significance to the health sciences and medicine.

What qualities should a student aspiring to join the course have?

It is a highly specialised discipline for which a student is required to have logical thinking, mathematical acumen and fine understanding of biological processes as well as statistical concepts. A sound knowledge or inclination to learn computer programming is also needed.

What are the emerging areas of specialisation in the discipline?

Computer-aided drug designing, molecular modelling, micro-array and structure prediction (homology) are some key areas of specialisation. Besides, pharmacogenetics, sequence analysis, genomics and proteomics are other promising areas.

— Sunit Dhawan