Foraying into Bioinformatics: My OmicsLogic Journey

The beginning of my ‘Bioinformatics Journey’ is no less than a personal epiphany. Learning about big data, seeing people analyze complicated data sets using algorithms, and reading articles about this field of science that has changed the course of research left me with numerous questions. I was looking for an opportunity to foray into Bioinformatics and was fortunate enough to be chosen as a research fellow at Pine Biotech. On the very first day, I came in with creases on my forehead, all worked up about how this would go, but I ended the day with a smile on my face, suddenly filled with a new kind of zeal and a certainty that it was going to be smooth sailing. So, let me show you around and share my experience. 

I will talk about the first two courses on the OmicsLogic learn portal – Introduction to Bioinformatics and Bytes And Molecules. These courses have been designed for beginners to start their Bioinformatics journey with ease. The course comprises three lessons, and each lesson is subdivided into sections in sequential order. The Introduction to Bioinformatics course focuses on three main concepts-

  • Introduction to Big Data Bioinformatics
  • Bioinformatics in Healthcare
  • Translational Bioinformatics 

The lessons focused on building upon concepts right from the basics, from what bioinformatics is to the current scenario and the need for this, followed by Big Data. Next, the lessons dive deep into the application of bioinformatics in healthcare. I learned about precision medicine and the current developments. Furthermore, the videos in each lesson give more profound insights into the concepts. It is then followed by the translational aspect: turning the work done in labs into interventions to benefit the public. Finally, learning about all the applications of bioinformatics in agriculture, defense (yes, defense! sounds exciting, right?), and population health set the stage for the courses to follow.  

The second course, Bytes and Molecules focuses on eleven main concepts-

  • Getting started: Bytes and Molecules
  • Citizen Science
  • Molecules, Data and Life
  • Code of Life
  • Protein Structure and Function
  • Introduction to genomics
  • Introduction to transcriptomics
  • Introduction to metagenomics
  • Bioinformatics and Precision medicine
  • Space Omics and Astronaut health
  • Introduction to Bioinformatics Languages (R) 

It starts with a strong emphasis on DNA and how information stored in DNA is involved in coping with changes. The course then goes into detail about OMICS and its terminologies. It then dives deep into citizen science, followed by how modern science has made it possible to peek into the genetic makeup of individuals. Next up comes the code of life, which elucidates the structure of DNA, and its components, followed by the facets of cell differentiation and a brief about cell signaling. The lesson on genomics throws light on the omics technology used to study genomes, followed by understanding synonymous and non-synonymous mutants and an introduction to the T-bioinformatics platform.  

Next up, I learned about the Human Genome Project, the central dogma, and next-generation sequencing. I gained clarity on various concepts such as single nucleotide polymorphism, single nucleotide variant, and copy number variant. Then came protein structure and function, in which Dr. Sona Vasudevan goes into great detail about the structure of proteins, deciphering the 3D structure and how it aids in drug discovery. The following section elaborates on how proteins communicate with one another, followed by another segment on the structural classification of proteins. Next, the lesson on transcriptomics is super easy to understand with its fine details of the central dogma of life, microarray technology, and the popular next-generation sequencing techniques, followed by more information on RNA-Seq. Next, I got to foray into metagenomics which elaborates on the microbial community of our body, various functions of the microbiome, and the tools used to study metagenomics. 

The first course had already introduced precision medicine, and we continue here. It explained the advantage of precision medicine over conventional methods in diagnosis and treatment, its application to treat various diseases, and pharmacogenomics, i.e., the study of how DNA affects the way a person responds to a drug. I also learned how bioinformatics helps develop precision medicine and some big data repositories.  

Next up, I learned something exciting; I had never comprehended that I would learn about bioinformatics used in space research. I got to learn about all the risk factors humans are exposed to in space; the lesson emphasized the twin studies in which one individual stayed on earth and the other at a space station, and after a period of 300 days, their samples were taken and multi-omics analysis conducted to see how the genome, cellular processes get affected in space. And this is indeed super interesting. 

I also learned about some of the devices used to simulate spaceflight and then a repository of spaceflight relevant data from experiments on model organisms developed by NASA. Needless to say, there is no dearth of data right now, be it experiments on earth or space simulations. Last but not least, I learned about R, a coding language, and solved some fundamental problems. It was a perfect introduction to the language.  I have always been intimidated by the term ‘coding.’ Though I learned the basics, my optimism is at an all-time high, and I will definitely learn to code. 

So, my learning experience was excellent as the courses had a build-from-scratch approach. They started from the very basics and then built upon the concept. The OmicsLogic learning platform has provided me with not just asynchronous coursework but also learning assessments to analyze my progress and exposure to intellectual interactions. Some advice for everyone who registers for the courses: Check out all the links provided in the lessons. They are a goldmine of learning. Don’t miss out. 

At last, I would like to emphasize the absolute efficiency with which the OmicsLogic learning portal takes the learner on a journey with various resources to choose from. I look forward to the rest of my journey as a learner and augmenting my knowledge to achieve targets and keep on progressing.  

So, now let us talk about how you can access these courses and start your bioinformatics journey. All you need to do is go to the OmicsLogic Learn Portal (https://learn.omicslogic.com/) and sign up for free. You can either create an account using the required credentials or sign up with any of your social media accounts. The next step is to create an updated profile. Click on your email ID on the menu bar; this will lead you to the profile section. An updated profile is also necessary for the mentors to monitor your progress. So make sure you have an updated profile with your picture. Your name should be in the title case as it will reflect on your certificates, link your social media accounts, and add a brief bio about yourself, your research background, and your research interests. You are all set to access the resources on the portal. The OmicsLogic learn portal has a myriad of resources and allows you to monitor your progress. Check out the following video: https://youtu.be/rkxk5v69v7Y