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Bioinformatics New School Gets Undergrads into Informatics


Indiana may not have caught up with daylight savings time yet, but it certainly won’t be the last place getting involved in genomics. In fact, it’s ahead of the game with its undergraduate and graduate bioinformatics degree programs and a new school of informatics at Indiana University.

Gary Wiggins, director of bioinformatics at IU’s Bloomington campus, says the idea is to “put graduates out in the field who really understand what the technology can do.” Students take most of their classes in IT-based disciplines and then have a cognate — a focus on biology, chemistry, or various other programs.

Students can enroll as undergraduates or masters’ candidates. Upon completion, says Dean Michael Dunn, they’ll have training in programming, distributed computing, mathematics, social informatics, human-computer interfaces — as well as whatever cognate courses they would have had, such as cell biology, molecular biology, and evolution.

The school is split between IU’s Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, with 40 bioinformatics students expected at each when the program’s in full gear. Informatics will be introduced as a minor at the South Bend campus next year. Students will be able to take advantage of the bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics center on the Bloomington campus as well as the university’s new teraflop supercomputer, a product of its partnership with IBM and the fastest such machine owned by a US university. Additionally, two new scholarships funded by MDL Information Systems give $15,000 annually in cheminformatics and bioinformatics. Another informatics-company-sponsored fellowship is expected to be announced soon.

— Meredith Salisbury


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