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The Bioinformatics major is the newest degree option being offered by the Biology Department at Missouri Southern. This major is an interdisciplinary degree combing the skill of the computer specialist with the knowledge of the biologist to mine the information being generated from the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project’s primary goal was to sequence the 4 billion nucleotide bases that code for your very own existence. Their goal has been expanded to sequence the genomes of other species from bacteria to protozoa to plants to animals. Because of the vast array of data, computer skills are a necessity.

Applications of bioinformatics exist in the pharmacy area where drugs are computer-matched to the 3-d structure of the protein even before efficacy studies are initiated. Other targets of this discipline will be to determine the susceptibility by a patient to a particular drug based solely on their DNA sequence.

The sequence data combined with microarray technology will allow researchers to explore the genetic causes of cancer, heart disease, strokes, susceptibility to infectious agents, and a wide variety of other applications.

The Bioinformatics major takes classes in both the Computer Information Services department and the Biology department. The capstone course, “Bioinformatics” then takes the information about genetics and the knowledge of algorithms to mine the various databanks of genomic information.

This major will prepare the student to enter the emerging field of biotechnology or for advanced training in a graduate bioinformatics program.

For more information, visit Bioinformatics or one of the sponsors of the Human Genome Project, the National Institutes of Health's website at National Center for Biotechnology Information.

For more information about the Bioinformatics program at Missouri Southern, contact the Biology Department’s Bioinformatics advisor: Dr. Gerald T. Schlink.