Bioinformatics – Plethora of options

The immense potential of the IT, life sciences and biotech industries in India and the West has encouraged promotion of corporates which are allying with academia to conduct path-breaking research

The 21st century’s most promising industry, bioinformatics — a marriage of IT (information technology) with life sciences — offers a multiplicity of high-potential and rewarding career options. Currently the annual revenue of the bioinformatics industry worldwide is estimated at $6.4 billion, with exponential growth expected in the next decade, stretching the boundaries of biotechnology from an essentially lab-based science into an information science which will yield rare biological insights, and hasten the discovery of an entire range of new life-saving drugs and pharmaceuticals.

The growth and immense potential of the IT, life sciences and biotech industries in India and the West has encouraged the promotion of a huge number of conglomerates and corporates which are increasingly allying with universities and academic institutions to conduct path-breaking research in this field. Hence life sciences, mathematics, computers, agriculture, medicine and engineering graduates, postgrads and Ph Ds are likely to find a plethora of career options in bioinformatics.

STUDY PROGRAMMES. Institutes offering specialised postgraduate programmes in bioinformatics include:

• The Jawaharlal Nehru Bioinformatics Centre, New Delhi

• IIT-Kharagpur

• University of Pune Bioinformatics Centre, Pune

• Osmania University, PGRR Centre for Distance Education, Hyderabad

• Amity Institute of Biotechnology, New Delhi

• University of Kolkata

• Bose Institute, Bioinformatics Centre, Kolkata

• Madurai Kamraj University, Bioinformatics Centre, Madurai

• Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh

• Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB), Bangalore

• Bioinformatics Institute of India, Noida

• Mar Athanasios College for Advanced Studies, Kerala

• Bharathiar University, Coimbatore

• Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli

• Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad

Admissions are usually on the basis of an entrance test.

Students acquainted with bioinformatics have numerous job opportunities in this booming industry. Graduates and postgrads with database management skills and capability to collect, store, retrieve, analyse and correlate data to develop new and advanced algorithms, have a particularly bright future in this fast evolving industry.

REMUNERATION PROSPECTS. Remuneration packages for bioinformatics professionals in the West range between $40,000-100,000 (Rs.28-70 lakh) per year given their immense utility in pharmaceutical research. In India, however, bioinformatics is yet to mature and postgrads signing up with private sector pharma companies can expect relatively modest, yet fairly handsome salaries ranging between Rs.200,000-500,000 per annum.

Professionals with doctorates could start research labs in various institutes or sign up with pharma companies as research scientists and expect fast-track career growth.

(Excerpted from 101 Great Careers for the 21st Century by Indra Gidwani, 2016)

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