Biological and Medical Informatics at UCSF

Why is biological and medical informatics important?

Biological and medical informatics approaches are used to understand the function of genes, the regulation of cells, drug target selection, drug design, and disease. Without quantitative analysis of the massive amounts of biological data generated by various systems, biology and -omics data cannot be interpreted or exploited. Skilled bioinformaticians are needed in academia and industry to develop new methods for data management and analysis.

Why is now an ideal time for the field?

Rapid developments in computing hardware and software, along with the explosion in capabilities of high throughput -omics technologies, systems biology, and deep-sequencing platforms are generating massive amounts of data that require novel biological and medical informatics approaches to manage and analyze. Tremendous opportunities exist for biological and medical informatics scientists to solve these new and emerging challenges.

Why train in biological and medical informatics at UCSF?

UCSF researchers pioneered many biological and medical informatics areas including data visualization, systems biology, protein structure prediction, and drug design. With broad and deep expertise at UCSF, students can pursue biological and medical informatics applications for various -omics approaches. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty who are generating new types of biological data, and together they will be on the cutting edge of developing tools to analyze these new types of data. With faculty interests that include genetics, genomics, evolution, protein structure, systems biology, host-pathogen interactions, drug design, and cellular biology, students have a wide range of areas to explore and integrate. Members of the Biological and Medical Informatics faculty include members of the National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Investigators, Searle Scholars, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) New Innovator Awardees.

The program is set within a university whose basic science PhD graduate programs rank among the best in the United States, according to a September 28, 2010 report by the National Research Council. Our alumni work primarily in industry and academia.

UCSF takes an interdisciplinary approach to education.

UCSF is known widely for its success in interdisciplinary PhD science education. Students not only share courses and attend seminars across fields, they also rotate through laboratories and eventually settle in the laboratories of particular principal investigators, all the while training alongside students in other programs.

The interdisciplinary nature of UCSF graduate programs is reflected by how they are often grouped together to leverage their strengths. The Biological and Medical Informatics Graduate Program is one of five PhD degree programs under an umbrella grouping called the Quantitative Biosciences Consortium (QBC).

UCSF’s research atmosphere is one of collaboration.

At UCSF, all graduate students learn from the most accomplished faculty in the world for whom collaboration is a shared commitment. UCSF was founded in 1864 when California was still a frontier and San Francisco was a place for the bold and fearless. That pioneering spirit remained with UCSF and is reflected today in its discoveries—from oncogenes to prions and from how telomeres function to how DNA can be spliced. In fact the technique of recombinant DNA developed here spawned the entire biotechnology revolution. The accomplishments of UCSF scientists are reflected as well by their success in attracting research dollars.

The UCSF scientific community is welcoming.

UCSF is a place that welcomes diversity. It is a place where the faculty is engaged in the success of each graduate student. UCSF graduate students have ready access to faculty members; work with people of all backgrounds, ages, cultures, orientations, and perspectives; meet and discuss and debate ideas; and hold impromptu meetings with scientists in hallways and cafes.

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