The Bioinformatics Program

The Bioinformatics Undergraduate Degree program at Saint Vincent College applies the discrete analytical tools of mathematics and computer science to the fields of biology, biochemistry, biophysics, medicine, and health.

Apply now for  four year, $5000 STEP scholarships!

What Can I Do With a Degree in Bioinformatics?

Students majoring in Bioinformatics can look forward to careers in the healthcare, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as research opportunities in universities and government laboratories. They will also be well-prepared to apply to dental or medical schools. This is a growing field with enormous career opportunities at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels - demand is high for individuals with a combination of biological knowledge and computational skills. Graduates of the program may find themselves creating databases for a gene discovery project, using computer modeling to characterize the structure and function of a newly discovered protein, employing computational models to predict the spread of disease, or helping manage and analyze data from clinical trials.  As you can see from the examples below, there are a variety of opportunities available to graduates from the program.

Resultsbioinformatics-results
Bioinformatics Results
  • In the past 5 years alumni have enrolled at PhD programs at the University of Michigan and Columbia University; and Masters programs at Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Hawaii, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

  • Recent graduates Natalie Nakles (’16) and Aaron Lazuka (’13) were accepted at Pitt Medical School and WVU Dental School, respectively.

  • Alumni of the program work for UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, and various companies.

  • Applicants to the program have the opportunity to apply for a four year, $5000 annual STEP Scholarship. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program or STEP, is a national initiative that encourages global competitiveness in the sciences. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in the Collaborative Learning Program.

  • Bioinformatics Undergraduate students participate in monthly Bioinformatics program meetings where they get to know other students in the program and discuss recent developments or topics in Bioinformatics, present work they did on summer projects, and learn about what seniors are doing for their senior research projects, all with food and drinks provided! There is also an end-of-year barbeque and mini-golf outing. 

Curriculumbioinformatics-curriculum
Major Requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry (B.S.)

Biology Track 

Major Requirements (63 credits) 

Bioinformatics Requirements (10 credits) 
BIN 218 Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics  - 3 credits
BIN 219 Biomedical Informatics - 3 credits 
BIN 357 Bioinformatics Junior Seminar - 1 credit
BIN 358 Bioinformatics Senior Research - 2 credits
BIN 359 Bioinformatics Senior Seminar - 1 credit

Biology Requirements (22 credits)
  BL 150 General Biology I - 3 credits 
  BL 152 General Biology II - 3 credits 
  BL 151 General Biology Laboratory I - 1 credit
  BL 153 General Biology Laboratory II - 1 credit
  BL 208 Cell Biology - 3 credits
  BL 209 Cell Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
  BL 214 Molecular Genetics - 3 credits
  BL 215 Molecular Genetics Laboratory - 1 credit
  BL 260 Biostatistics - 3 credits
And one of the following (the associated lab is recommended, but not required):
  BL 212 Microbiology - 3 credits
  BL 216 Biotechnology - 3 credits
  BL 222 Developmental Biology - 3 credits
  BL 224 Mamalian Physiology - 3 credits
  BL 234 Evolution and Systematics - 3 credits
  BL 250 Medical Microbiology - 3 credits
  CH 251 Proteins and Metabolism - 3 credits
  CH 252 Nucleic Acids and Membranes - 3 credits
CIS Requirements (15 credits)
  CS 109 Introduction to Visual Basic Programming - 3 credits
  CS 110 C++ Programming I - 3 credits 
  CS 170 Discrete Structures I - 3 credits
  CS 350 Database Concepts and Information Structures - 3 credits 
And one of the following:
  CS 171 Discrete Structures II - 3 credits
  CS 205 Web Site Design and Programming - 3 credits
  CS 214 Introduction to Mobile Application Programming - 3 credits
  CS 250 User Interface Design - 3 credits
  CS 255 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - 3 credits
  CS 270 Introduction to Numerical Computation - 3 credits
  CS 305 Web Technologies - 3 credits

Mathematics Requirements (4 credits)  

MA 111 Calculus I - 4 credits

Chemistry Requirements (12 credits)
CH 101 General Chemistry I - 3 credits
CH 102 General Chemistry II - 3 credits
CH 103 General Chemistry Laboratory I - 1 credit
CH 104 General Chemistry Laboratory II - 1 credit
CH 221 Organic Chemistry I- 3 credits
CH 223 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory - 1 credit

Computation Track
Major Requirements (64 credits)

Bioinformatics Requirements (10 credits) 
BIN 218 Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics  - 3 credits
BIN 219 Biomedical Informatics - 3 credits 
BIN 357 Bioinformatics Junior Seminar - 1 credit
BIN 358 Bioinformatics Senior Research - 2 credits
BIN 359 Bioinformatics Senior Seminar - 1 credit

Biology Requirements (17 credits)
  BL 150 General Biology I - 3 credits 
  BL 152 General Biology II - 3 credits 
  BL 151 General Biology Laboratory I - 1 credit
  BL 153 General Biology Laboratory II - 1 credit
  BL 208 Cell Biology - 3 credits
    BL 209 Cell Biology Laboratory - 1 credit (recommended)
  BL 260 Biostatistics - 3 credits
And one of the following (the associated lab is recommended, but not required):
  BL 212 Microbiology - 3 credits
  BL 214 Molecular Genetics - 3 credits
  BL 216 Biotechnology - 3 credits
  BL 222 Developmental Biology - 3 credits
  BL 224 Mamalian Physiology - 3 credits
  BL 234 Evolution and Systematics - 3 credits
  BL 250 Medical Microbiology - 3 credits
  CH 251 Proteins and Metabolism - 3 credits
  CH 252 Nucleic Acids and Membranes - 3 credits

CIS Requirements (21 credits)

  CS 110 C++ Programming I - 3 credits
  CS 111 C++ Programming II - 3 credits 
  CS 170 Discrete Structures I - 3 credits
  CS 221 Data Structures - 3 credits
  CS 350 Database Concepts and Information Structures - 3 credits
  CS 351 Information Systems Analysis & Design - 3 credits
       or
  CS 355 Software Engineering - 3 credits 
And one of the following:
  CS 171 Discrete Structures II - 3 credits
  CS 205 Web Site Design and Programming - 3 credits
  CS 214 Introduction to Mobile Application Programming - 3 credits
  CS 250 User Interface Design - 3 credits
  CS 255 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - 3 credits
  CS 270 Introduction to Numerical Computation - 3 credits
  CS 305 Web Technologies - 3 credits
  CS 310 Programming Languages - 3 credits


Mathematics Requirements (8 credits) 
 
MA 111 Calculus I - 4 credits
MA 112 Calculus II - 4 credits

Chemistry Requirements (8 credits)  
CH 101 General Chemistry I - 3 credits
CH 102 General Chemistry II - 3 credits
CH 103 General Chemistry Laboratory I - 1 credit
CH 104 General Chemistry Laboratory II - 1 credit

Student Work and Researchbioinfomatics-student-work
Bioinformatics Student Work and Research

Bioinformatics at Saint Vincent College provides students with a distinctive combination of analytical and scientific training coupled with a broad-based liberal arts education. This mixture is a natural fit at Saint Vincent, allowing students to explore interdisciplinary connections both among the sciences and in relation to the world around them. Opportunities for pursuing individual interests within and across disciplines are encouraged, including summer internships and research experiences (on or off-campus).

Bioinformatics Students will design and carry out their own bioinformatics project as a capstone experience, including a written thesis. This work will also be presented either orally or in poster format at the annual St. Vincent Academic Symposium. Students from the program have also presented their work at meetings such as the annual Duquesne Summer Research symposium in Pittsburgh and the Rocky Bioinformatics Meeting in Aspen, Colorado.

The Collaborative Learning Program (CLP) allows students to interact with their peers, learning more about their fields through regular meetings and field trips.

Previous Senior Theses:

2016
Natalie Nakles, “The Development of Novel Toxiferine-Derived Neuromuscular Blocking Agents”
Conor Sterling, “Lanthipeptide Production in Gemmatimonas aurantiaca

2015
Elijah Colliflower, “MiBrow: The Centralization of Critical microRNA Data”

2014
Andrew Baker, “Construction of a Relational Database of Prion-forming Proteins”
Jen Klimek, “Improvements and Testing of the RAE System as an Effective Education Tool”
Rachel Svonavec, “Comparative modeling and epitope mapping of peanut, soybean, and hazelnut allergenic proteins from the cupin family”

2013
Nick Huhn, “Genomic Analysis of the Deinococcus Family”
Aaron Lazuka, “Investigation of Genes Mutated in Amelogenesis Imperfecta”
Josh Martin (December 2012), “Sequence Analysis of the Deinococcus Genus to Explain Relative Radiation Resistance”
Aaron Lazuka (2013) "Investigation of Genes Mutated in Amelogenesis Imperfecta"
Nick Huhn (2013) "Genomic Analysis of the Deinococcus Family"

Typical Freshman Schedulebioinformatics-freshman-schedule
Typical Freshman Schedule

Fall and Spring
General Chemistry - 3 credits
General Chemistry Laboratory - 1 credit
CIS 110/111 or CIS 109 - 3 credits
General Biology  - 3 credits
General Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
Core - 3 credits

All students will take a three (3) credit course designated as a Freshman Seminar which will satisfy a core curriculum requirement.

Prerequisitesbioinformatics-prerequisites
Prerequisites
There are no formal prerequisites for the Bioinformatics Undergraduate Degree program, although students should have a strong science background and good quantitative ability. Prior computer programming experience is not required, but it is helpful if students have the opportunity to gain it.
Internships and Careers in Bioinformatics

Saint Vincent students have participated in internships at a variety of top tier research institutions in the field of Bioinformatics, including Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative, Allegheny General Hospital, the Immune Tolerance Network, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center. Students in our program combine the advantages of a small college atmosphere with the opportunities to participate in internships at nationally and internationally recognized institutions.

Bioinformatics training provides a foundation for a wide range of possible career paths. Graduates from the program have been accepted into Masters and PhD programs at Cornell University, Columbia University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Michigan, among others. Graduates will also be well-positioned to compete for Bachelor-level positions in industrial, governmental, or academic settings.

Previous Internships

Aaron Lazuka, Pitt Dental Informatics (2012)

Josh Martin, Duquesne Summer Research Program (2012)

Elijah Colliflower, RAE project, Allegheny General Hospital (2013, 2014)

Natalie Nakles, Excela Health physician shadowing internship (2015)

Miranda Jackson, on-campus internship with Br. Albert Gahr (2016)

  • Learning Objectives

    The degree in Bioinformatics is designed to:

    • To train students deeply in both computer science and biology, along with some math and chemistry.
    • To provide students with a solid foundational understanding of cellular and molecular biology.
    • To develop students’ abilities to solve biological problems using computational tools.
    • To develop students’ abilities to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
    • To allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing and carrying out a capstone project.
    • To provide students with the opportunity to participate in internships that complement and enhance their academic training.
    • To prepare students for a variety of career options including:
      • graduate programs at the Master's or Doctoral level
      • pre-professional training programs, such as medical school or dental school 
      • entering the workforce in the healthcare, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, or in research institutes affiliated with governments, universities and hospitals