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:
- 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?)
- 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)
- 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.