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. 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 Boston University’s Shared Computing Cluster (SCC). The SCC consists of over 21,000 CPU cores, 330 GPUs, and more than 8 petabytes of storage. There are over 800 general and discipline-specific software application packages installed on the SCC. Many compilers and libraries common in high-performance computing are also supported.

Numerous training services in a wide variety of topics, including Linux basics, programming, high-performance computer, data analysis, and visualization, are also available to all BU researchers and students.

Bioinformatics Program Computational Resources

The Bioinformatics Program has purchased six buy-in compute nodes and 40 terabytes of storage as part of the SCC. Each of the compute nodes has 16 cores and 128 GB of memory, for a total of 96 cores and 768 GB of memory. Our researchers are given priority access on these buy-in resources, as well as fair-share access to all of the SCC’s shared resources.

Bioinformatics Program Computational Training and Support

The Bioinformatics Program participates in the Research Computing Consulting Student Ambassador (SA) program. One of our graduate students provides SCC support and training specifically for Bioinformatics students. The SA holds regular office hours and maintains documentation on using SCC for Bioinformatics applications.

In the fall semester, our graduate students provide coding tutorials and workshops to incoming Bioinformatic students to introduce how to write code for use on SCC. The Bioinformatics Program provides a Slack channel for graduate students to discuss computational issues, suggestions, and offer help to one another.

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.