Question: Prospects Of Phd In Bioinformatics
3
gravatar for Ankush
6.2 years ago by
Ankush30
Delhi
Ankush30 wrote:

In Jan 2009 I got associated with a Bioinformatics Lab to complete my internship (required for completion of my MCA degree). Though the internship got over in June 2009, I continued working with my project guide and later got the opportunity to work as Senior Research Fellow in the same lab. I continued in this lab till Jan 2010 and we developed a large number of tools and solutions for our lab to be used by biologists.

I do not have a very strong background in the biological aspects of Bioinformatics and since the work I did used to come in bursts, I managed to learn things on a "need to know basis" (which means they were forgotten with reduced application ). I worked with my Project guide/PI and other scientists to turn their problems into problems that could be solved programmatically, and I learnt very little about the bio aspects of the problems. To me all that I did was bits of programming and designing (what a software engineer does) and I didn't understand most of the biology portion. Whatever doubts I had were resolved by going through various small articles or with the help of fellow interns/colleagues (this is what I mean by "need to know basis").

In Feb 2010, I joined an MNC as software engineer in which I was selected through campus placements. It is considered a "dream company" by so many, but the work I do here doesn't provide the same kick as the fact that my tools are being used for new discoveries. I may be a software engineer by profession, but I like pure sciences a lot and those 13 months with Bioinformatics had rekindled my interest in sciences.

Now I'm looking to pursue a PhD in Computer Science (and since I have some exposure to Bioinformatics) with a major in Bioinformatics. I'm am not sure if PhD in Bioinformatics is right for me because I've very limited exposure to it. I have not studied Life Sciences post class 10th (which means practically no life science exposure) except for some chapters in Biochemistry (part of graduation) and "learn on a need to know basis" during my intership and job (as mentioned earlier). I'll be applying by the end of this year to join in Fall 2012 and so I need to build a stronger background in biology which probably will include knowledge about wetlab as well as some BioStats.

I've been reading different surveys and studies to gain information about the field of Bioinformatics as well as its scope. Even after reading so many articles and results, I'm not sure about the scope of Bioinformatics in India (whereas in US, I could find opportunities in corportate as well as academia). I wish to do my PhD, come back to India and join a lab to do research, a university for academics or may be join corporate but I am not able to find detailed information about any of them. I want to do some concrete innovative work and not waste my efforts by doing a trivial repeatitive tasks (which often happens in so many Indian universities or other corporates) or else I'm doing well as SE in this MNC. I do not want to end up doing a doctorate which will make me over-qualified for my current job on one hand while not presenting exciting work opportunities in that field on the other.

I need help/suggestions on the following:

  1. Which will suit me better - PhD in CS with concentration in Bioinformatics or PhD in Bioinformatics? (And will I be considered for these at all?)
  2. How do I study from scratch (last bio I read was like 18 months back) to build the bio part of Bioinformatics? (I can spend something like 15-20 hrs a week till August 2012)
  3. What is the scope of Bioinformatics in India and will I actually get decent work & money after say 5 years? (Companies which hire/Research labs which need PhD Bioinformatics)

I hope I'll be able to get suitable suggestions. Revert back in case clarification or for more detailed information.

career phd education • 5.3k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 6.2 years ago by Qdjm1.9k • written 6.2 years ago by Ankush30
2

This question is probably more suitable for a bioinformatics job forum: e.g. Linkedin's Bioinformatics Job News. http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=2560367&trk=anet_ug_hm

ADD REPLYlink written 6.2 years ago by Niallhaslam2.3k

Hello Ankush! Before starting a PhD, please consider this: http://sansscience.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/science-career-structure-in-crisis-its-only-news-to-the-politicians-not-us/

As for your question 1., I can say that I have done a PhD in CS (theoretical computer science) and I am now working in bioinformatics. It just depends how much biology research you want to do later in your career, or whether your problems will be mainly focusing on CS problems.

ADD REPLYlink written 6.2 years ago by Joachim2.8k
6
gravatar for Istvan Albert
6.2 years ago by
Istvan Albert ♦♦ 75k
University Park, USA
Istvan Albert ♦♦ 75k wrote:

It is considered a "dream company" by so many, but the work I do here doesn't provide the same kick as the fact that my tools are being used for new discoveries.

Make sure not to over romanticize science.

From you description it seems unlikely that you would end up running your own research - and if you were to work in a support role as a bioinformatician you would probably see fewer innovative and new discoveries. Instead you'd most often be tasked to rescue large amounts error laden data produced from possibly ill designed and flawed experiments carried out by novice experimentalists, sequenced via old reagents and suboptimal parameter settings.

Do get me wrong that can be great fun too - but it is a different type of enjoyment and not everyone likes it.

ADD COMMENTlink written 6.2 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 75k
1

I am referring to the situation where the OP apparently has a job at a place that others consider to be a "dream company" yet is unhappy and thinks science must be a whole lot better than what he/she already has.

ADD REPLYlink written 6.2 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 75k

What are you talking about...?

ADD REPLYlink written 6.2 years ago by Graslevy240

I am referring to the situation where the OP apparently has a job at a place that others consider to be a "dream company" yet is unhappy and thinks science must be a whole lot better than what he/she already has.

ADD REPLYlink written 6.2 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 75k
3
gravatar for Qdjm
6.2 years ago by
Qdjm1.9k
Toronto
Qdjm1.9k wrote:

Ankush, in addition to Istvan's comments here are a few other things to think about:

  1. What a "PhD in bioinformatics" means varies a lot from institution to institution. This can cause a bit of confusion among employers. Everybody knows what a PhD in CS is, however.
  2. Nobody can predict what the market for bioinformatics is going to be like when you finish your PhD. If one of your criteria is to be able to find a good job after your PhD in a specific place, a CS PhD with a focus on bioinformatics gives you the most flexibility.
  3. A PhD in bioinformatics is usually a science PhD and you should never think of a science PhD as a way to get a job in industry. You should do science because you are passionate about it; it doesn't necessarily lead to a good job. A CS degree is more of an engineering degree.
ADD COMMENTlink written 6.2 years ago by Qdjm1.9k
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