Bioinformatics Education

New bioinformatics course! BCH5101: Analysis of -omics data

The Institute Educational Mission

Bioinformatics is an emerging and increasingly important scientific discipline dedicated to the pursuit of fundamental questions about the structure, function and evolution of biological entities through the design and application of computational approaches. Fundamental research in these areas is expected to increase our understanding of human health and disease which translates into innovation in industry (i.e. drug discovery). As a field of research, it crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries such as computer science, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, engineering and the medical sciences. While individual researchers usually specialize in a particular area, bioinformaticians today must be able to appreciate significant research in other fields and therefore require an understanding of the basic principles of other disciplines. To meet this challenge Carleton University and the University of Ottawa offer a collaborative program leading to a Master of Science degree in the primary program with specialization in Bioinformatics or, in the case of computer science, a Master of Computer Science degree with specialization in Bioinformatics. For program details, see the program webpage.

The primary participating units of this program are:

1. The Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology, the joint graduate program of the departments of Biology at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

2. The Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Computer Science, the joint graduate program of the School of Information Technology at the University of Ottawa and of the department of Computer Science at Carleton University.

3. The Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, the joint graduate program of the department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Ottawa and of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Carleton University.

4. The Cellular and Molecular Medicine graduate program of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM) at the University of Ottawa.

5. The Biochemistry (BCH) graduate program and the Microbiology & Immunology graduate (MIC) program of the Department of Biochemistry, Immunology and Microbiology (BMI) at the University of Ottawa.

The Collaborative Program is managed by a committee made up of representatives of the various participating units. A director and associate director administer the program.

The program operates within the general framework of the "Regulations and Procedures for Joint Graduate Programs" ( and the general regulations of the graduate faculty at each of the two universities. The program will become affiliated with the Institute once the latter is established, in accordance with existing relevant regulations of University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

To enhance and elevate status of the aforementioned program, the Institute will pursue following major educational aims, in coordination with other graduate and undergraduate programs that involve Bioinformatics and Computational Biology component:

1) Undergraduate Program
The Institute will create a Bioinformatics option for Ottawa departments that participate in its mission. It is hoped that this undergraduate training will provide suitable candidates for the Institute graduate program. We expect that this option be available beginning September 2011. To this end, the Institute will create two additional courses at the 3rd and 4th year level in each of the two official languages and identify potential supervisors for 4th year undergraduate research projects. In order to increase the number of available courses, the Institute will allow uOttawa undergraduate students to enroll in undergraduate bioinformatics courses at Carleton for credit. In order to meet our fall 2011 objective, new courses must be approved by their host department no later than spring 2010 and sent to senate for approval no later than December 2010. The Institute will also prepare a document outlining the requirements for the Bioinformatics option and submit it to all departments for their approval. For the latest updates, see Marcel Turcotte's bioinformatics page.

2) Graduate Program
The Institute will expand the current MSc Joint Collaborative program in Bioinformatics (BNF) to the PhD level, so that our current MSc students can transfer to a Joint Collaborative PhD program in Bioinformatics. The collaborative structure of the current program will be kept to expedite the course creation. The joint nature of the current program will be conserved to increase course availability to students. The targeted operational date of September 2011 is a function of two factors. First, two additional graduate courses need be created at the 8000 level with BNF and departmental course codes. This generally requires a calendar year for completion. Second, enrollment must increase from the current 6 to at least 20 for favorable consideration by the Senate at uOttawa and OCGS.

3) Undergraduate Summer school
The Institute will create a 1-2 week residential training opportunity for undergraduates. The school will have its inaugural class in summer 2010. In addition to training, an important goal of this school will be to identify possible recruits for the Institute research and educational programs. The Institute will explore external funding (faculty, MITACS etc.) to minimize attendee cost. The organization of the Summer school will be one of the major elements of the Institute visibility (see below).