What is bioinformatics? But above all, what is a bioinformatician and what does he do? I asked myself these questions many times during the bioinformatics course held during the master’s degree course in plant biotechnology at the University of Turin. Well, do you want to know the truth? Even after an exam passed with an excellent grade and an internship spent in the bioinformatics sector, I can assure you that I will not be able to give a simple answer to these questions, in fact bioinformatics is a very complex science, it requires knowledge of crucial themes of biology, computer science, without neglecting mathematics and the very important statistics. But let’s try to clarify. I state that my experience in this regard is still limited, I took an exam and I spent a period of my internship dealing with bioinformatics and now I’m doing my thesis “playing” to be a bioinformatician. My aspiration? Become a bioinformatician, work and live by analyzing biological data. To do this, I am increasingly realizing that we need to study a lot, but really a lot. If you want to become a bioinformatician, confusion will often reign supreme in your head but above all it is necessary to always search the net for useful information, in order to continuously update your knowledge as well as refresh it. Ok, so it may seem that I’m a sucker in this and therefore I see everything so difficult, but I assure you, even people much more experienced and talented than me with whom I was lucky enough to work have the same problems. I think I can say with absolute certainty that to become a bioinformatician you must first learn to snort. Yes, you got it right, snort! If I had gotten a dime for all the times I saw my bioinformatics professor snort at the whirlwind and complex execution of a bioinformatics analysis I’d be rich by now. I know, I’m painting it quite gray but in reality I tell you that when you solve a very complex bioinformatics problem and you are faced with a serene clarity your ego is pumped, and the amazement of having finally understood, of having arrived at a conclusion about a specific biological theme, it’s big, very big. Here I must say that my bioinformatics professor, despite the snort, reaches the finish line very easily, for now I have learned to snort and that’s it. Joking aside, I realized that when you don’t get to the head of a problem you just have to take a deep breath, arm yourself with patience and search for possible solutions online in a practical way. Is certainly the bioinformatician hardly gets bored, in fact it happens to always have to do new things or simply the analysis you are doing you have not done it for a while and you have to re-study something, as if it were the first time.
I hope I have not discouraged you but I think it must be said that becoming a bioinformatician involves a lot of sacrifice, especially for those who come from a purely biological field and need to acquire, often alone, a series of knowledge in the computer and statistical sector. I believe that those who approach bioinformatics starting from a computer background are much more advantaged since, in my humble opinion, it is much easier to recover biological knowledge independently.
To become a bioinformatician therefore requires a lot of personal study and this complicates things, not a little. Let’s understand that obviously if you come from a biological field you don’t have to become an expert computer scientist nor if you come from a computer field you have to become a biologist. The bioinformatician is a sort of intellectual chimera, that is, he must know how to work with the computer and apply some important computer concepts but he must also know molecular biology, genetics and other related subjects in order to understand the biological data and results that he observes during his work . Obviously the speech is a bit more complex, in fact as in many things in life it is not all black or white, there are different shades. In fact, there is the bioinformatician who is very capable in writing programs aimed at solving a specific biological problem and the one who limits himself to using the programs written by others in order to solve biological problems, the latter are commonly defined users. Personally I would be largely satisfied to become a good user.
In short, at this point I would like to tell you that bioinformatics is that interdisciplinary science that allows the resolution of biological problems through the use of computer tools.
I bet you’re now wondering where I want to go with this long-winded introduction. Well my intent is to tell you step by step what bioinformatics is and what it is for, I will try to report my experience in the study of this science, I repeat it can well be said that I am just at the beginning of my studies, mostly personal , which has as its ultimate goal that of making bioinformatics my job and therefore being able to define myself as a bioinformatician. I will also talk about purely practical concepts as well as providing the theoretical basis. So if you too want to know the world of bioinformatics follow us and you will not regret it.
Bye and see you soon.