Bioinformatics has developed at the juncture of the mathematical sciences and the life sciences; its development is analogous to that of molecular biology as a discipline in its own right. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bioinformatics is “research, development or application of computational tools and approaches for expanding the use of biological, medical, behavioral or health data, including those to acquire, store, organize, archive, analyze or visualize such data.” Indeed, there is a consensus among observers that biology, regardless of the subspecialty, is being overwhelmed with a large amount of very complex data; what sets biology apart from other data-rich fields is the complexity rather than the sheer volume of the data produced. It is clear that collaboration between computer scientists, mathematicians, biologists and biochemists will be necessary to design information platforms that support the analysis of biological data. The application of mathematical and computational tools to all areas of biology is producing many exciting results, providing insights into biological problems too complex for traditional analysis.
The concentration in bioinformatics at Clark is offered by the departments of Mathematics and Computer Science in collaboration with the departments of Biology and Chemistry. It introduces students to some of the present paradigms and tools in this rapidly evolving discipline and combines knowledge of biology and chemistry with principles from mathematics and computer science that can be used to design tools to solve problems in the life sciences. It is especially well suited for undergraduates who are interested in the life sciences and enjoy quantitative thinking. Students who graduate with a concentration in bioinformatics will be in a strong position to go into industry or continue their education in graduate school either in their major or in a graduate program in bioinformatics.