SCHEV approves VCU Bioinformatics programs
VCU to offer state's first undergraduate major in new biological discipline
Thursday, April 8, 2004
RICHMOND, Va. -
Virginia Commonwealth University has received approval from the State
Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to offer undergraduate
and graduate programs in bioinformatics - a new integrative discipline
that applies state-of-the-art advances in information technology to
advanced biological and biomedical research. Bioinformatics provides the
means to analyze, interpret and model data sets generated in
contemporary systems-wide investigations spawned by the ongoing genomic
revolution in biological research.
offered by the Center for the Study of Biological Complexity (CSBC) at
VCU, include Virginia's first undergraduate major in bioinformatics and
two master's options. The Bachelor of Science degree - one of only a few
such majors in the United States - offers three bioinformatics tracks
focusing on Biology and Genomics, the Computational Sciences, or the
Quantitative Sciences and Statistics.
programs offer students a choice of the same three bioinformatics tracks
in each of two alternative options - a traditional 'thesis'-based
Master of Science in Bioinformatics and a professional Master of
Bioinformatics. The Master of Science in Bioinformatics provides
in-depth advanced academic research preparation for leadership positions
in biological and biomedical research in academia or industry, or
leading to a Ph.D. program. The Master of Bioinformatics provides
MBA-like training in bioinformatics and includes semester-long
industrial externships and associated training that will prepare
students for research positions in the pharmaceutical, biotechnical or
medical industries. Development of the Master of Bioinformatics option
was supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's
Professional Science Master's Degrees program.
accelerated, combined B.S.-M.S. degree program provides select students
an opportunity to complete both degrees in a five-year time frame. This
program is available for both the thesis and professional master's
programs, and provides an attractive alternative for very talented,
highly-motivated students to move through their undergraduate and
graduate training at an accelerated pace.
the application of contemporary information technology to solve new and
very complex biological problems," said Gregory A. Buck, Ph.D., director
of the CSBC. "Genomic, global systems-wide research strategies have
revolutionized biological research and future biological scientists need
new, non-traditional tools to compete in this arena. Mathematics and
computer science, and other tools of information technology will be
indispensable to future investigators. Our interdisciplinary programs in
bioinformatics were developed to prepare our students for this
anticipate considerable student interest in earning a bioinformatics
bachelor's or master's and moving directly into entry-level research
positions, our Master of Science in Bioinformatics will provide training
and motivation for top students to pursue interdisciplinary Ph.D.
training in programs like VCU's new and innovative Ph.D. in Integrative
Life Sciences," said Buck.
these new bioinformatics programs, the CSBC recently was funded by the
National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to
create the VCU Bioinformatics and Bioengineering Summer Institute, one
of only nine such programs in the nation. This two-year summer program
exposes upper level undergraduates from across the U.S. to the
principles and practices of bioinformatics and bioengineering. VCU's
program began in summer 2003 and runs for 10 weeks each year. "Students
in the summer institute are well prepared to enter VCU's master's
programs in bioinformatics," said Buck.
bioinformatics programs were developed by the Center for the Study of
Biological Complexity in VCU Life Sciences and will start in the fall
2004 semester. More information is available at
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.