Computational Biology and Health Informatics Track Overview Video

The following is a transcript of the video clip "Computational Biology and Health Informatics Track Overview":

Min-Joon Kim (Junior): OK. So to start off with, could you just briefly describe the general characteristics of the Computational Biology and Health Informatics track?

Debra Goldberg (Assistant Professor): Yes. So one thing that I want to point out that's different about this track early on is that the natural sciences sequences that we prefer don't include all of the natural sciences. So for example, physics is not part of our standard set for computational biology; we have, you know, various biology, various physiology, chemistry, those types of, can count six different sequences, and so that's something that students also start. But generally, what is it, the motivation, for the last few decades, computing is really revolutionizing the way biologists and biology, the way hospitals, medical professionals are doing their jobs, and it's not just that they need some things done in ways that have always been done before -- there's lots of new, interesting problems that really take some deep thinking here.

Kim: What are the main interests people have who want to be in this track?

Goldberg: So here on campus, predicting gene protein function which, you basically search along the line towards, creating better medicines. There's large effort about the human micro-biome and lots of other micro-biomes where looking at the assortment. So there's 100-1,000x's more bacterial cells in our body than there are human cells. So that we've been looking at the human genome, trying to understand all the genes and proteins in the human body, but we really need to start understanding some of these bacteria that are within us, and how those interact with our proteins and such. And Boulder's one of I think three national centers for that research.

There's folks looking at natural language processing, with biomedical literature, not always human sequence data growing exponentially faster than computing power, but so is the literature. And, you pick one field in biomedicine, there could be 200 new papers a day published, so how do you manage that? You can't possibly read it all; how do you even find the ones that are most interesting to you?

People work with personal health records, so how could people, help manage their health records, medications, particularly older people who have many medications, who it would be very difficult to keep track if you've taken them, which ones do you need to take, can you go to a new doctor, are you taking any medications, yes, which ones, how much, you know, what's the dosage? So things that will help even the technophobes amongst us be able to help do that better. Gains for health, improving people's health, what kind of medical records.

Kim: And obviously, each person has a different capability of doing things. I'm just wondering, what characteristics in a computer scientists makes a good candidate for Computational Biology?

Goldberg: So I think one of the key things for Computational Biology, or really any disciplinary science, is to be able to learn from different fields, but more importantly to work with people different fields, to collaborate, to work with people with different backgrounds, different perspectives. And certainly the way to get into the Health Informatics, you need to be able to work with patients of different backgrounds, literacy, different socioeconomic, that is be able to expect that all of these differences are equally valid.

Kim: And one last question, after college there are all different jobs, it's a big thing, big deal, and what are some of the job opportunities for, in this case that I would have as an advantage by choosing Computational Biology and Health Informatics track?

Goldberg: Certainly things that one would think of, biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies, these days all have large computational units. National research labs, research centers, hospitals. But, one thing that you wouldn't expect also, so IBM has a huge amount of computational biology research going on. I've talked with someone from Microsoft, in their bioinformatics or some kind of unit that's, so, many opportunities.

Kim: That's all the questions I have.

Transcript provided by Erik Silkensen.