Bioinformatics is an exciting and rapidly growing field that uses computer technology and information science to study biological information and structures. Specifically, it is the science of developing computer databases and algorithms to facilitate and expedite biological research, particularly in genomics.
There is an immense and growing need for scientists and managers in the field of bioinformatics, especially by the emerging and established biotechnology companies that are taking advantage of the DNA sequence of the human genome. The data provided by the Human Genome Project has required an increase in tools needed by researchers to analyze and document data in areas like functional genetics and structural biology. Further research will lead researchers to gain insight into understanding disease processes and creating novel treatment strategies. A degree in bioinformatics would prepare a student to be a vital part in one of these areas.
One of a kind… The UNO Bachelor's of Science in Bioinformatics undergraduate degree (B.S.BI) is one of only a handful of its kind in the United States and one of only fourteen of its kind in the world according to the International Society for Computational Biology. Despite the limited number of existing programs, there are several aspects that set our degree apart from the others. One difference is the creation of a number of bioinformatics specific courses for the program—currently six courses with more being developed. Another unique aspect of our program is that the remaining courses in the degree are nearly equally weighted among the four major component disciplines of bioinformatics (computer science, biology, mathematics and chemistry). Finally, our degree program is unique because it is offered simultaneously by two colleges: the College of Information Science & Technology (IS&T) and the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology. Although the core requirements for the degree are the same, the two offerings differ in the number of general education courses vs. electives that are available. Offering the degree in two colleges fosters collaboration among faculty and allows students to tailor the degree to best fit their needs.
The College of IS&T also offers both a Master's of Science degree in Computer Science or Management Information Systems and a Ph.D. in Information Technology (IT). For both, students may choose a thesis/dissertation topic in bioinformatics. Finally, the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in conjunction with the College of IS&T, awards both Master's and Ph.D. degrees in bioinformatics. More information on these can be found under Graduate Degrees.
The NE-INBRE (Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) Scholars program is a two year opportunity beginning after a student's sophomore year. The goal of the program is to enhance research opportunities for undergraduate students in biomedical sciences. Three undergraduate students each year will be selected as NE-INBRE scholars through a scholarship application process.
BIIG stands for UNO’s Bioinformatics Interest Group. The group supports research and introduces students to information technology and bioinformatics. BIIG meets a couple times each semester for presentations given by guest speakers. Some recent speakers have been Dr. Sandor Lovas from the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences at Creighton University and Dr. Igor Rogozin from the National Institutes of Health, the National Library of Medicine, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The meetings provide a sense of community and belonging for Bioinformatics undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and others in the field.