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How to Start Bioinformatics

The first major and commonly asked question by everyone is how can I start or which should be the starting point? The answer to this question is really dependent on the tasks you want to perform. There is no way that one can excel in all aspects of bioinformatics in just couple of months or years. Its better to decide what you want to excel before starting, we can divide the expertise in to different categories:

1. Ability to use online tools and web-servers: Now major web-servers are developed to the extent that an ordinary biologist is able to run any kind of automated analysis on these servers easily. For example, performing pairwise alignment of any genomic or proteomic sequence using blast or blat, searching common mutations in particular cell lines using public databases, searching for common variants in any particular population etc. If you want to excel these basic skills in bioinformatics that its really easy now-a-days. All major platforms have very elaborative user manuals and interfaces, one can excel one platform just in couple of days. Just keep on visiting Bioinfoguide.com as I have a plan to cover all major platforms one by one.

2. Ability to install and set-up your own pipelines using preexisting tools: The answer to this part depends on your previous skills, if you are familiar with any Unix based system than you are lucky, as majority of preexisting tools are using Unix platform. If you are using Windows than first you should start with getting familiar with basic Unix environment and commands. I will recommend install Ubuntu as a second OS in your system (or make a virtual environment but it will slow your learning) right now, there are a lot of great tutorial available online for this purpose. Once you get familiar with Unix system than majority of tools and pipelines don't need high scale skills of bioinformatics atleast to run o default parameters. Just keep an eye on all tutorials using our site I have a plan to make tutorials for all basic NGS tools and pipelines.

3. Ability of data manipulation (Important for all kind of analysis, modifying large files using own scripts): Here starts real bioinformatics, if you want to excel in bioinformatics analysis than you should have basic skill for data manipulation, any scripting language and databases. Usually data related to bioinformatics is big data, you have to perform different kind of analysis on large files containing genomic sequences or related information. Even if you are just using preexisting tools you can perform tasks to some extent without automation but after a particular threshold you need to automate all these processes and you will need basic programming skills for this purpose. If you want to perform all analysis on your own that just start some basic scripting language courses e.g. Perl, Python or Ruby etc. I will try my level best to share all my hacks and techniques using this platform, if you need any special assistance in this regard feel free to contact me.

4. Ability to design your own new tools and algorithms: If you wants to be professional level bioinformatician than you must have good grip on any programming language, scripting languages, databases  for implementation of your ideas and also skills of statistics and mathematics which will help you to design your  own algorithm. Usually, this level is dependent on many other factors and you will have to join any professional team after achieving basic skills. Major limitations include data availability for designing any tool or algorithm, followed by computational facilities, experience from different fields etc.

 

 

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