Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Is Launched !

  • Prof. Shinya Kuroda (Head of Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology)
Figure 1

Figure 1: The first 10 students of Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

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Figure 2: Overview of Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

The first 10 students of the Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology have started their junior years (Figure 1). Four of them were from Science Course I and the remaining six students from Science Course II, which shows well-balanced scientific backgrounds. Bioinformatics and systems biology are to analyze life science by use of technology of information science, and comprehensive experimental approach, and expected to open a new era of the cutting edge of life sciences (Figure 2). Let me tell you about the curriculum of the new department and what the first students have been doing.

One of the most unique features of education program of the Department is feedbacks between both experiments (wet) and computers (dry). In addition to basic lectures of biology and information science, lectures of bioinformatics and systems biology, which are new fields of science, are given. Not only basic experiments, but also experiments of bioinformatics combining computer programming and genome experiments are conducted. It is a curriculum with emphasis on cultivation of practical skills on bioinformatics. In terms of basic lab practice of biology and information science, the Department shares common lab practices with the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry as well as the Department of Information Science. Although the students who had been learning life-science-oriented courses seemed to have difficulty in catching up with computer-based experiments in the beginning, now they came to acquire high-level skills. The students have been smoothly developing a bilingual skill handling both wet and dry, and I can't wait to see their future activities.

This is the first full-scale department of bioinformatics and systems biology in the country, which is pretty rare even in the US and Europe. The department was established purely based on the internal actions and I can tell that it is one of the signs of the University's enthusiasm to lead the world. Besides that, it is another establishment of a new department in the School of Science since the Department of Information Science was created 30 years ago. Establishing a new department in a school of a university is mainly limited to an academic field that shows a new development, which occurs once or twice in a century. In that sense, I think the impact bioinformatics and systems biology has on the field of life sciences has been well-expressed. Considering the fact mentioned above, we are confident that the graduates from the Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology will become international leaders of this field in the near future.