PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Gottin

BIOINFORMATICS PROGRAMMING: Rensselaer's John Salerno (shown with biologist Jane Koretz) has been piecing together courses for the institute's new bioinformatics offerings.
"Bioinformatics," the buzzword, seems unavoidable. But, for life scientists, is learning the related skills unavoidable, too?

Acquiring that software savvy may not be absolutely necessary, notes W. Graham Richards, professor of physical and theoretical chemistry at Oxford University. But it may be prudent. "If you look in the back pages of Nature or Science, almost every week, there's job after job." Richards suspects that the ocean of data being generated by the Human Genome Project, as well as by a growing number of private sequencing ventures, will provide work for years. "There are masses of data that have to be handled," Richards says. "There's a huge shortage of people to do this work."

The shortage of skilled people results in part because few...

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