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The need for just-in-time bioinformatics training for biologists is well-established. However the jury is still out when it comes to formal education in bioinformatics. Bioinformaticians are called to apply computational methods to life science data with the view of contributing to biological discoveries – a scientific task, but they are also often required to design and implement new methods and infrastructure for life science computing – a task that draws on engineering skills and mindset. Putting the two together into one degree is difficult especially at the undergraduate level given the breadth of foundational knowledge required.
UNSW has for the last 13 years offered a degree in Bioinformatics engineering with a strong engineering core. This degree is now being complemented by a Bachelor of Science in bioinformatics that aims to train biologists with a strong computational focus. The two degrees share common courses but each has a distinct emphasis and target audience.
Presented at InCoB 2014 special session on Bioinformatics Education and Training: http://incob2014.org