Mar 25, 2019  
2009-2010 University Catalog 
    
2009-2010 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Bioinformatics – Major


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Bioinformatics is a new scientific discipline that merges biotechnology and computer science into a broad-based field that is important to all of the biological sciences. The Human Genome Project has initiated a major revolution in the way genetic information is generated and analyzed. These advances in molecular biotechnology and computer hardware/software have changed the way pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies organize their research and development activities. Basic and applied research in numerous fields such as microbiology, cell biology, and genetics are using the new tools of genomics, DNA chips, and proteomics to answer important biological questions. The amount of molecular information that is now being generated is truly “astronomical,” and it requires an individual trained in bioinformatics to organize, analyze, and understand that information. Scientists in the 21st century will need to learn how to use and develop bioinformatic tools to manipulate molecular and organism data for answering questions of biological relevance.

USP offers one of the few undergraduate programs in bioinformatics in the country. We were the first university in the state of Pennsylvania to be granted permission by the Department of Education to offer a bachelor of science degree in bioinformatics. Our program integrates a strong fundamental background in the sciences with specific training in computer science, chemical modeling, molecular biology, and genomics. We also offer an integrated master of science degree for students who wish to further their education in bioinformatics. For qualified students who complete the bioinformatics BS degree, it can take as little as one additional year of study to obtain the graduate MS degree.

Students who obtain a bachelor of science degree in bioinformatics at USP have a large number of career tracks open to them. The most obvious source of employment would be in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Recently a large number of new companies that specialize in genomics and bioinformatics have opened. Job opportunities in these disciplines are obviously excellent. A second career choice would be in the more traditional computer science industries. Many software and hardware companies have divisions that serve the pharmaceutical, medical, and academic industries. A third line of career development would be in academic and government research. There is a large and growing demand for individuals trained in bioinformatics to contribute to numerous scientific disciplines. Professionals such as physicians and dentists will also require knowledge of bioinformatics as we enter the century of molecular medicine.

Students in the bioinformatics program will:

  • Attain an understanding of the fundamentals of molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and biotechnology necessary to comprehend and critically evaluate the contemporary scientific topics for bioinformatics and closely related disciplines.
  • Attain a solid understanding of the theoretical and computational concepts that underlie current computer science and bioinformatics practice, especially concerning sequence analysis, computational genomics, and data mining methods.
  • Attain proficiency in software and database development that are relevant to bioinformatics and be competent in Web-centered application development.
  • Attain an understanding and appreciation of the major topics in the liberal arts and social sciences by successfully completing the University’s general education requirements.
  • Be able to communicate effectively to their colleagues, both in writing and oral presentation.

The bioinformatics program is housed in the new McNeil Science and Technology Center. Students have the opportunity to perform directed research in the laboratory of any participating faculty member at USP. A large part of a student’s academic time will be spent working with sophisticated computer software and hardware environments. USP has a number of Beowulf supercomputer clusters that enable students to perform computationally intensive molecular modeling. The University also has an informatics center for the study of pharmaceutical database and patient analysis and a new state-of-the-art digital video center for student use.

Along with USP’s impressive computer infrastructure is our traditional excellence in laboratory science. The modern undergraduate biology, chemistry, and physics laboratories are designed with student learning as the main objective. Our biotechnology laboratories give students the opportunity to work on projects in molecular biology and genomics. We have an automated fluorescent capillary DNA sequencer and a DNA microarray (chip) analyzer that students will access during formal coursework and in performing directed research.

Bioinformatics Degree Requirements


For students entering in 2008 or later, the minimum number of credit hours needed for completion of the BS degree in bioinformatics is 130.

Passing the writing proficiency examination is a graduation requirement for students who entered in Catalog Year 2008 or earlier (see Catalog Year for Degree Requirements). Students who have failed the examination are urged to seek assistance from the Writing Center. Students who entered in Catalog Year 2006 or earlier must also pass the computer competency requirement.

Bioinformatics Program Electives (3 credits)


Sample Bioinformatics Curriculum Plan


Students entering in Catalog Year 2006 and earlier (graduating classes of 2009–2010)—with core curriculum.

First Year


Second Year


Third Year


Fall Semester


  • Social Sciences Fundamental Requirement Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 18


Credits/Semester: 16


Credits/Semester: 18


Credits/Semester: 17


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


  • Core Distribution Requirements Credits: 6
  • Free Elective Credits: 6

Credits/Semester: 16


Spring Semester


  • Core Distribution Requirement Credits: 3
  • Core Elective Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 16


Minimum Total Credits for BS degree 133


Sample Bioinformatics Curriculum Plan


Students entering in Catalog Year 2007 (graduating class of 2011)—with general education.

First Year


Second Year


Third Year


Fall Semester


Credits/Semester: 18


Spring Semester


Credits/Semester: 18


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


Suggested: BI 495 - Directed Research in Bioinformatics Credits: 1-3

  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 13


Spring Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Elective Credits: 6

Credits/Semester: 15


Total Credit Hours for BS Degree in Bioinformatics: 130


Sample Bioinformatics Curriculum Plan


Students entering in Catalog Year 2008 (graduating class of 2012)—with general education.

First Year


Second Year


Third Year


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Elective Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 2 Below)

Credits/Semester: 13


Spring Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Elective Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 2 Below)
  • Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 15


Minimum Total Credits for BS degree: 130


Footnotes:


  1. Students may substitute PY 211/212 (pre-/corequisite MA 201) for PY 201/202.
  2. BI 495 - Directed Research in Bioinformatics is suggested as an elective.

Sample Bioinformatics Curriculum Plan


Students entering in Catalog Year 2009 and beyond (graduating classes of 2013 and beyond)—with general education.

First Year


Second Year


Third Year


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Elective Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 2 Below)
  • Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 15


Minimum Total Credits for BS degree: 130


Footnotes:


  1. Students may substitute PY 211/212 (pre-/corequisite MA 201/202.
  2. BI 495 - Directed Research in Bioinformatics is suggested as an elective.

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