The area of computational biology involves both development and application of data analysis, theoretical methods, mathematical models, and computational simulation in the study of biological, behavioral, and social sectors. This is a broad field and may be used in biochemistry, computer science, applied math, and animation, to name a few.

The profession is often referred to as bioinformatics, although there are technically a few differences. the field of computational biology has grown increasingly important, due to the use of modeling and/or computations in multiple divisions of the scientific community.

This field has been driven largely by the exponential increase in data collection power. The actual method of data collection has become so varied that the resulting biological knowledge has skyrocketed. There is likely to be even more of an increase in the demand for computational biologists over the course of the next decade.  Current and future theories could apply to an area such as microbe classification and the theories could be further applied to both health and environmental related topics, such as using the newly classified microbes in an effort to contain or prevent widespread disease.

A student may choose to earn a bachelor's, master’s, and/or doctorate degree in the field of computational biology. However, it should be noted that many schools will combine computational biology with bioinformatics as a program choice due to their close similarities.

Students who may be interested in pursuing computational biology as a career would potentially take some of these courses:

  • Theory of statistics
  • Quantitative genomics and genetics
  • Introduction to computing using python
  • Introduction to computing using MATLAB
  • C ++ programming
  • Differential equations and dynamical systems
  • Bioinformatics programming
  • Population genetics
  • Statistical genomics: coalescent theory & human population genomics

Students interested in this field should be following the International Society for Computational Biology for the most updated information available. There are also books available on Amazon for more information on the topic.

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