Bioinformatics is the theory, application and development of computing tools to solve problems and create hypotheses in all areas of biological sciences. Biology in the post-genome world has been and continues to be transformed from a largely laboratory-based science to one that integrates experimental and information science. Bioinformatics has contributed to advances in biology by providing tools that handle datasets too large and/or complex for manual analysis. Examples of some of these tools include assembling the DNA sequence of entire genomes, gene finding algorithms, microarray expression analysis, molecular systems modeling, and biomarker discovery from mass spectra. Computational tools are central to the organization, analysis and harvesting of biological data at the level of macromolecules, cells and systems. Consequently, there is a growing need for trained professionals who understand the languages of biology and computer science. Biologists trained in more traditional programs may not have a working knowledge of statistics and algorithms, whereas computer scientists trained in more traditional programs may not have a working knowledge of the chemistry and biology required in the field.
The Undergraduate Bioinformatics Degree at the University of Pittsburgh, which is operated jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Computer Science, program offers training that builds a solid foundation in chemistry, biology, computer science, mathematics and statistics. This training will enable students to communicate fluently with experts across these disciplines, and to have the skills necessary to apply computing tools to address contemporary problems in biology and medicine. The training will enhance the professional opportunities for undergraduates to pursue careers in pure or applied research in academia, government, pharmaceutical, medical, or biotechnology sectors.