The Bioinformatics Program is offered jointly by the College of Engineering and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Through coursework, collaborative training projects, and dissertation research, students will learn to apply analytic and computational methods and information technologies to current problems in cell and molecular biology.
The program offers both MS and PhD degrees. Its curriculum is designed to provide interdisciplinary training that combines advanced computational methods with the latest techniques in molecular biology. The graduate curriculum entails individual courses that integrate mathematical modeling, wet labs, and information sciences; industrial rotations, internships, and grand rounds.
Research areas are numerous and include biological information management, gene mining, drug design and targeting, protein and nucleic acid structure, and cellular regulatory networks.
Because we are educating future leaders, the program will also include training designed to sensitize students to the social impact of technology, including ethical and legal implications of emerging technologies.
A distinguished faculty of more than 50 members is drawn from 19 departments in five schools and colleges at Boston University, as well as a group of outstanding adjunct faculty from industrial and nonprofit organizations. Areas of research include genomics, biological networks, statistical methods in bioinformatics, evolutionary genomics, metabolomics, and structural biology and bioinformatics.
Students in the program have access to state-of-the-art computational facilities, including:
- Two computational clusters.
- An Illumina HiSeq 2000 and an Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx.
- The Illumina Sequencing Core Facility (ISCF), which offers Next Generation Sequencing at Boston University Medical School.
- The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC): a research computing data center that is being designed and built in Holyoke, MA, by a collaboration comprising Boston University, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, and the University of Massachusetts, as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- The Molecular Genetics Core Facility, which provides DNA Isolation services from different sources, sample storage, preparation of lymphoblastic cell lines, high-throughput DNA sequencing, and high-throughput genotyping.
- In fall 2012, the College of Engineering, the Center for Computational Science (CCS), Information Systems & Technology (IS&T), and the Bioinformatics Program introduced a significant expansion to the facilities for research computing with the acquisition of a 160 GPU-accelerated cluster. At 80 teraflop/s in peak double-precision performance, this system is the fastest ever deployed at BU and is the largest academic GPU computer cluster on the East Coast.
Innovative Features and Activities
The Bioinformatics Program offers several innovative features to help enhance graduate education. These include:
- The annual International Workshop in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, which is a joint undertaking of computational biology graduate programs in Boston, Kyoto/Tokyo, and Berlin.
- The Challenge Project offers teams of first-year students the opportunity to do original research on large-scale problems with direction, but minimal supervision, by faculty.
- The Wet-Lab Experience introduces new trainees to state-of-the-art experimental methods in the summer before they officially enter the program.
- The Student-Organized Symposium is an annual opportunity for students to identify an important or emerging area of science and invite leading researchers to present their latest results.