Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bioinformatics, or Will the bubble burst before the boom?

I was visiting some bioinformatics related forums this week, and what I saw frightened me. A lot. Remember the good old days of the dot-com era, where you could IPO for millions presenting the vague idea of a project? Lots of my friends studied in informatics back then, even if they didn't have any affinity or interest with the field, believing in the promise of a '100% garanteed job, we NEED informatics guys, it's the NEXT BIG THING'. Where are they now, in the post-dotcom era? Working at Walmart, working in doughnuts shops, etc.

What I saw on some bioinformatics forums made me believe that the same exact thing will happen (minus the massive IPO craze) with bioinformatics. Hordes of people asking advice to get in the field, obviously because it's the 'NEXT BIG THING'. I saw physicists and mathematicians with no programming knowledge nor biology insight get in the field. Hordes of Indians too, probably with some informatics degree, wanting to specialize themselves in bioinformatics (no problem with that), but having no interest whatsoever in biology. One even asked if it was possible to do bioinformatics 'without hardcore biology'... Ugh.

News flash : The bubble will burst, cause the world don't need billions of 'bioinformatics guys' who 'studied' in the field without having affinity or interest in it, hoping for an easy 100K+ job. Survival of the fittest will prevail, as ever. Interested in bioinformatics? Do learn programming, but do some 'wetlab' biology if possible. You can't understand problems biology has if you never worked with biological systems!

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