Where to look for bioinformatic knowledge?

Bioinformatics is increasingly emerging field on the cross of IT, biology and statistics ( and chemistry, physics and so on and so on). People that work ‘in bioinformatics’ have so various background like in no other field of science. But the question is where to learn bioinformatics, where to find interesting articles, where to find problems and data to work with (to learn on) and finally where to publish?

Where to learn? Recently, I wrote about coursera courses (https://scienceisthenewblackblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/coursera-and-udemy/), I really recommend. The bioinformatics courses on Coursera are related to Rosalind (http://rosalind.info), where you can find problems to solve and check whether your solution is sufficient and correct. Rosalind project was named after Rosalind Franklin, who has undervalued role in the understanding of DNA structure (associated mainly with Watson and Crick). There is also nice book including various basic bioinformatic algorithms by the same authors (http://bioinformaticsalgorithms.com/). If you’re already a bit familiar with bioinformatics the best way is to work on real data. For example for microarrays and NGS, a lot of exemplary data is deposed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ (in really various, not so unified format, but you can use it to learn) and these data often are associated with papers so you can compare what you got from the analyses and what the authors got.

There are also many facebook fanpages (e.g., European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI)), twitters (e.g. @Bioinformatics_ , @BioinfoRRmatics) and blogs (e.g., http://www.opiniomics.org/, http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/, https://flxlexblog.wordpress.com/, http://lab.loman.net/, ) where you can find infos on how to start with bioinformatics and how this field is developing. You really just need to google it and you’ll find ocean of information.

For learning I also recommend you to go through some bioinformatic papers and check out code (often available at github or researcher’s sites), try to run it and understand how it works. What technologies the authors used (of course it is better to analyze papers of top bioinformatic labs to be sure that the choice of technology wasn’t just a guess of graduate student 😉 ), what data the software works on and what output it provides. Many data types are special for bioinformatics and this is an interesting way to learn about them.

As for publishing, there is a lot of possibilities. There are strictly ‘bioinformatics’ journals, just to name a couple: Bioinformatics (Oxford), BMC Bioinformatics and Briefings of bioinfomatics. Also more mathematical/statistical journals adopted to publish bioinformatics papers (e.g., Journal of Theoretical Biology or Journal of Mathematical Biology). However, there are many possibilities to publish bioinformatic papers (tools or results of analyses) in biological journals depending of the biological dilemma investigated. For example, Nucleic Acids Research not only publish bioinformatic papers on ‘daily’ basis but also has a special issue called Web Server Issue and special issue called Database issue. So the possibilities are really broad.

Happy ‘bioinformating’ 😉


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