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opportunities in biocomputing

Daz darrenp at bruce.cs.monash.edu.au
Thu Jan 13 22:03:31 EST 1994

moldovbj at esvx12.es.dupont.com wrote:
: Although I know this is the wrong newsgroup for this posting, I can't
: find any place better to ask this question. I have a Ph.D. in 
: Biology, with my training being in molecular biology and
: some protein biochemistry. Primarily I have worked on gene regulation
: and DNA-protein interactions. I'm currently doing a postdoc in an industrial
: setting, and have come to the following realization. I would be much happier
: if I were doing a project that involved computers rather than being
: a bench scientist. So, now that I am committed to entering the world of
: computational biology, how do I find the opportunitites in the field?
: I've got lots of computer experience, although none of that can be shown
: on my CV. Since this is the wrong area to discuss this, please email me
: or direct me to the best newsgroup. Thanks!

Well as this is more relevent than a lot of the stuff floating about in
here (long standing sore spot) - I'll post a followup. I can relate to what
you are saying - I did genetics and computing in parallel for my undergraduate
studies, and at times I took a lot of extra subjects just to avoid making a
decision. When the time finally came, I prevaricated and ended up doing honours
in computer science, followed by a PhD in computing - still going, in the
area of algorithms for genetic mapping. In a sense I've done what you
probably should have done. There do seem to be places where the geneticists
get a say in the software writing - and there's tremendous scope for
computer literate biologists to communicate with programmers to convey what
they want and need. You would find things easier I think in an academic 
environment where free exchange of information is more the norm, and
interaction between faculties is ok, but I should add that saince 'defecting'
to computer science, I have had trouble convincing biologists that I can be
of help to them, and getting data, despite being fairly fluent in their

I don't suppose you want to do another undergraduate degree - there is quite
a lot more to computing than simply writing programs - if you want to do
commercial non-biological computing, then maybe a 6 month course would be
enough (they have them here, and we are a bit sceptical, seeing what we fail
to achieve in 3 years). Maybe just continuing to write small bits of
software on the side will satisfy you. I personally hanker evey now and then
for a bit of wet work - an ideal job would allow me to be involved with both
sides. We have a small community of computational biologists here, but it's
still a difficult place to be in, even on our side of the fence. 

Best wishes, and if you have any other questions (wanna come to oz and study ?)
feel free to mail me.

Darren Platt, Department of Computer Science
darrenp at dibbler.cs.monash.edu.au
Monash University, Clayton Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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