Careers in biotechnology, part VI. More opinions on bioinformatics in a software company

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Sandra Porter

I'll continue with the remaining parts of my career series shortly, but for the time being, I want to bring your attention to a really good post on doing bioinformatics as a software professional, and some commentary on the question that never seems to go away: "do biologists need to be able to program?"

Thanks to GenomeWeb.

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From Paolo Nuin, we have a great interview with Dr. Alexei Drummond, author of BEAST, about his experience moving from academic biology to professional software development.

Many of the points that he made resonate with my experience in a software company. If you're interested in this route, I highly recommend reading the interview.

Here's a taste: development isn't science -- but science now crucially relies on software development and support.

GenomeWeb also cites Neal Saunders (I'm a biologist Jim, not a programmer), who does bioinformatics in an academic lab. Neil seems to think that everyone should learn Perl.

I think everyone should learn biology, and understand controls. As far as biologists learning programming, well, I have lots of opinions on that, but I'll save them for a later time.

Pawel Szczesny at Freelancing science has some interesting comments as well, but be sure to read what Deepak has to say. I always enjoy reading his posts because he seems to be much more connected with real world practical issues than most of the bloggers I've read.