The last decade has seen the world of computational biology has grown from a relatively uncharted field, into a highly respected (and lucrative) one, where many students get head-hunted before they even graduate. It has been a rocky road of data exploration and collection, which until recently has not quite found a home or the people with the right acumen to analyse it and spot the gems, or the companies who are geared-up to use either. But it is all changing, and rapidly.
Innovations in pharmaceuticals, biomedicine and life sciences are happening at an increasingly rapid pace. Research in those fields has never been faster and more effective than today. And there are still so many things yet to be discovered.
The catalyst to drive the field of computational biology into such exciting times is the world of Big Data. There is already more information than anyone can handle, and lots more to come. Knowing what is valuable, what might be valuable or what can be left to one-side, requires skills most old school pharma scientists did not (need to) study for. But the demand to analyse such quantitative information for the biotech and life science industry currently outstrips supply.
In short, today’s medical research requires biologists, through mathematical modelling and the development of new complex systems and tools, to find the answers that pharma scientists once delivered. Experts that can use technology, crunch the data and construct computational models to advance the research are in high demand. Whatever your plans, to study for your PhD or head straight into the field, a postgraduate degree in any of these disciplines prepares you for a great future.
With computational biology as its foundation, every university has its own course structure and specialist subjects. Given the area of expertise required by many companies, areas covered typically include genome evolution; biophysics, mathematical modelling, and bioinformatics technologies. Some universities focus more on biological aspects, some focus more on the technological dimension and offer more in-depth courses in programming, collecting and assessing data and so on. It all depends on where you want to go - now, and in the future.
In a recent study, the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) revealed that Biotech has created nearly 500,000 jobs in Europe. And they predict that number to grow beyond 1 million jobs in 2030! That means manifold opportunities for graduates from Biotech and Bioinformatics Master’s programmes.
Some of Europe’s most important hubs for biotech, pharma and life sciences are located in Germany. Some of the world’s most successful pharma companies are here, and a host of innovative new startups in life sciences, biotech and medical technologies; and German universities and research institutions are respected worldwide. Depending on the degree programme, you will cover core subjects like mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, biomedicine and computational systems biology, plus lots more.