bioinformatics, future of

Kim Pruitt saltcity at
Fri Nov 22 01:51:07 EST 1996

Sarah Boomer wrote:
> Dear Kim and group,
 (big clip)
>         Anyway - I would be curious what you or other out there think of
> the future of bioinformatics.

Dear Sarah,

Your partner probably made a good choice.  I think DNA mining is a good
skill right now, but as you said as more people learn to do it it's
value will decrease.  There will probably always be jobs in industry for
folks who are especially skilled in this area and can recognize
significant DNA/protein motifs on sight, but the competition will
intensify.  I agree, the up&coming modeling/structure prediction arena
does seem bright and as it requires a lot of specialized skill (whereas
database search skills can be picked up fairly easily) it seems
reasonable to assume that it will remain a marketable skill.

>         I would also be curious to ask you and others about the breakdown
> of programming bioinformaticists vs scientists who are program
> technicians/users.  


I'm not plugged into "mainstream" bioinformatics here in my home office,
but my observation is that right now there is a real demand for
programming skills (if you read the newsgroup you'll
see a lot of scientific programming jobs, as well as the bioinformatic
job postings in Science).  I think there will be a continuing need for
scientists who can program and scientists who know enough about
programming and databases to help plan/manage/structure the interface
between the research data and the programming team (so its a great idea
for you to take a C++ course if you think you have any interest in this
area).  The bioinformatics feature on Science's Next Wave web site had a
lot of information on the field - did you see it?  I personally find the
whole arena of bioinformatics to be very exciting.  I think it will be
satisfying to be a part of the effort to better manage and decipher the
monumental volumes of DNA sequence data pouring out from the numerous
genome sequencing projects.
>        - I'd be curious to hear from people who have gone into
> bioinformatics from science how they conveyed their skills on a resume.  (clip)

I've been putting my computer experience (all self-tought) on my c.v.
under the heading "Technical Experience"  I break this heading into
sub-catagories like Molecular Biology/Plant Tissue Culture/Computer etc.
I have included a variety of things in the "computer" catagory including
naming specific programs I utilized extensively, programming languages I
have some familiarity with (C, html), the computer platform I can use
(ie. Mac, PC, Vax...),...etc. and I don't indicate it is self-taught. 
Much of what we learn in grad school/postdoc ends up being self-taught -
don't you think?  I guess it would be okay to list extra course work if
you wanted to do that.  The point of the c.v. is to highlight your
experience and areas of expertise and to get someones attention.  That
person can then ask you in more detail about your skills, and you can
also put additional information in your cover letter.
-Kim Pruitt

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