PHOTO CREDIT: Graham G. Ramsay

DO IT YOURSELF: Harvard Medical School's George Church (back) thinks the best way to learn cutting-edge bioinformatics techniques is through constant self-education. Church and research assistants (from right) Jason Hughes, Preston Estep, and Fritz Roth (now with Millennium) stand near an RNA chip scanner, which helps determine changes in gene expression due to a given stimulus.

Date: December 7, 1998

Asking five people to define bioinformatics yields seven different answers, jokes Scott D. Kahn, senior director of life sciences marketing at Molecular Simulations Inc., a San Diego bioinformatics software firm. Asking five people how to gain bioinformatics skills leads to a similar conundrum. Until recently, self-teaching remained the only recourse. Now, short courses, university coursework, Web-based learning, and commercial software tutorials have emerged. Each option comes with its own set of pluses and minuses:

Self-teaching For people who actually develop software, such as...

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