I'm a mathematics and economics double major and I've been very interested in attending Georgetown's MS programs in Bioinformatics and biostatistics. However, I'm not so sure which one I should choose and which one would be the most useful for me. I know my background would be good enough for the biostatistics program but Bioinformatics deals with some things I've researched in the past but there are actual science classes that sacrifice the depth of biostatistics which can be quite important. I personally would like to use this degree to work as a research scientist and actually take part in R&D. In your opinion what program should I choose or which one will benefit me most?


I am not sure how well this fits into CV but since I have experience with this question, I am going to answer anyway.

Basically, biostatistics is the mathematical foundation for 99% of bioinformatics. The other 1% is dynamical systems if you want to do more direct theoretical modeling as for example done by these guys or if you want to do clinical informatics which is analyzing medical health records and build relationships to the medicines people used and discover new knowledge that way. For this type, Columbia and Stanford have rather strong programs with high clinical impact.

The basic bioinformatics literature is mostly statistical in nature since you try to associate gene expression with actual sequencing data which is inherently a guessing game. Therefore both parametric and non-parametric methods will be of paramount importance. To implement your research you need to rely on fast algorithms which is why you need to learn fast programming languages like C.

As you perhaps know from economics, it is always easier to go from more math to less math but never the other way round. In light of that and the above, my recommendation would be biostatistics unless you have already picked a specialization in bioinformatics.

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  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately the answer is wrong. $\endgroup$ – SmallChess Feb 1 '17 at 12:08

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