Bioinformatics at Hood College

Hood College Bioinformatics Course BIFX 550

According to MarketWatch, the bioinformatics market will be worth $16 billion by 2022. Employers such as NCI, NIH, FNLCR and USAMRIID routinely look for candidates with bioinformatics expertise.

Bioinformatics at Hood College

Program

  • Bioinformatics (M.S.)
  • Bioinformatics (C)

Department

  • Biology

Professor Sarangan Ravichandran, also known as Dr. Ravi, is an instructor in Hood College’s bioinformatics program who also works for the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research in Frederick, MD. He describes his Hood graduate course - BIFX 550 Nucleic Acid Sequence Analysis  and Protein Modeling - in the following way, "We will be going on a journey to explore and learn about ourselves. We all look very diverse from outside but inside our body we are all the same. Well almost the same! We are all made up of tiny cells not visible to the naked eye. Within each cell’s nucleus, we all carry the same number of nuclear material. It is in this microscopic world that we will spend all our time.” 

Dr. Ravi explains that skills needed for bioinformaticians include a command of Linux, statistical programming using R/RStudio, and a working knowledge of biological databases. Hood’s BIFX 550 course covers all of these areas with a focus on bioinformatics. During the Fall 2018 semester, student in this course were given a semester-long project in which each student was required to identify a novel gene (i.e. identification of new coding sequence). Students then presented their findings on the last day of the course. This exercise allows students to apply real-life skills needed to perform the job of a bioinformatics analyst and scientist.  

Graduate student Bianca Hoch shared her experience in the BIFX 550 course, “The novel gene project was, needless to say, very challenging. I had many questions throughout the entire process and second guessed myself several times. Eventually, what gave me confidence was the ability to share my results with my peers and Dr. Ravi. Every class we made a point to discuss our progress and anything we were worried about. Dr. Ravi of course was very helpful and made sure that we were equipped with new tools and knowledge to help us on our journey. Our BIFX 550 class was full of awesome people. We wholeheartedly supported each other's endeavors to discover new genes. The camaraderie that was felt on the last day of class when we gave our presentations was evident. Every presentation was a testimony for the hard work we put towards our discoveries. I believe that each round of applause was well deserved.”

Fun bioinformatics fact: Did you know that chickens are related to dinosaurs? According to a Scientific American article, “Modern birds descended from a group of two-legged dinosaurs known as theropods whose members include the towering Tyrannosaurus rex and the smaller velociraptors. The theropods most closely related to avians generally weighed between 100 and 500 pounds — giants compared to most modern birds — and they had large snouts, big teeth, and not much between the ears.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-dinosaurs-shrank-and-became-birds/).

Want to learn more about Hood College’s bioinformatics program, click here!

Miranda Darby

Bioinformatics Program Director Named

Miranda Darby Faculty

Miranda Darby has been named the director of Hood's new master's degree program in bioinformatics.

  • Math & Computer Sciences
  • Natural Sciences