Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary science at the interfaces of the biological, informational and computational sciences, uses computation to better understand biology. Bioinformatics involves the analysis of biological data, particularly DNA, RNA, and protein sequences. The field of bioinformatics experienced explosive growth starting in the mid-1990s, driven largely by the Human Genome Project and by rapid advances in DNA sequencing technology. Recent and novel technologies produce biological datasets of ever-increasing resolution that reveal not only genomic sequences but also RNA and protein abundances, their interactions with one another, their subcellular localization, and the identity and abundance of other biological molecules. This requires the development and application of sophisticated computational methods. Bioinformatics utilizes computational approaches to analyze patterns in biological data and to create complex models of biological activity, including attempts to elucidate the functions of genes and their interactions in genetic pathways. Widespread social benefits are expected from the exploitation of the wealth of new knowledge concerning the genetic mechanisms of life and related processes.
Analyses in bioinformatics predominantly focus on three types of large datasets available in molecular biology: macromolecular structures, genome sequences, and the results of functional genomics experiments (e.g. expression data). Additional information includes the text of scientific papers and "relationship data" from metabolic pathways, taxonomy trees, and protein-protein interaction networks. Bioinformatics employs a wide range of computational techniques including sequence and structural alignment, database design and data mining, macromolecular geometry, phylogenetic tree construction, prediction of protein structure and function, gene finding, and expression data clustering. The emphasis is on approaches integrating a variety of computational methods and heterogeneous data sources.
The main objective of the Ph.D. program in Bioinformatics at Kish international campus is to train the next generation of computational biologists for careers in academia, industry, and government.
The Ph.D. of Bioinformatics requires completion of 32 credits, a set of core courses (9 credits), a seminar (1 credit) and 8 credits of elective courses and a Ph.D. thesis (18 credits). The main emphasis of the program is on the successful completion of an original and independent research project written and defended as a dissertation.
Comprehensive Exam should be taken at most at the end of the 4th semester and is required before a student could defend the Ph.D. proposal. Students will have two chances to pass the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam. If students receive an evaluation of “unsatisfactory” on their first Comprehensive Exam attempt, the student may retake the qualifier once. A second failure will result in termination from the program. The Comprehensive Exam is designed to ensure that the student starts early in gaining research experience; it also ensures that the student has the potential to conduct doctoral-level research.
The Ph.D. proposal must contain Specific Aims, Research Design and Methods, and Proposed Work and Timeline. In addition, the proposal must also contain a bibliography and, as attachments, any publications/supplementary materials. The student must defend their thesis proposal to their committee in an oral exam.
A student should choose a thesis advisor (and one or two co-advisors if required) within the first year of being in the Ph.D. program, approved by the Faculty committee. In the second year, a thesis committee suggested by the advisor alongside by the Ph.D. proposal should be handed over for approval. The thesis committee should consist of a minimum of five faculty members. Two members of thesis committee should be from the other Universities at the Associate Professor level. Not later than the end of the 5th semester, a student has to present and defend a written Ph.D. proposal.
A student is expected to meet with his/her thesis committee at least once a year to review the research progress. At the beginning of each university calendar year, each student and the student’s advisor are required to submit an evaluation assessment of the student’s progress, outlining past year accomplishments and plans for the current year. The thesis committee reviews these summaries and sends the student a letter summarizing their status in the program. Students who are failing to make satisfactory progress are expected to correct any deficiencies and move to the next milestone within one year. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the program.
Within 4 years after entering the Ph.D. program, the student is expected to complete the thesis research; the student must have the results of the research accepted or published in peer-reviewed journals. Upon submitting a written thesis and public defense and approval by the committee, the student is awarded the Ph.D. degree. The defense will consist of (1) a presentation of the dissertation by the graduate student, (2) questioning by the general audience, and (3) closed-door questioning by the dissertation committee. The student will be informed of the exam result at the completion of all three parts of the dissertation defense. All members of the committee must sign the final report of the doctoral committee and the final version of the dissertation.
A minimum GPA of 16 over 20 must be maintained for graduation.
Leveling Courses (not applicable to the degree)
The Ph.D. in Bioinformatics assumes a Master degree in related fields. However, students holding any other master degree besides will be required to complete a few of the following leveling courses that are designed to provide a background for the Ph.D. courses. These leveling courses are not counted for graduate credit towards the Ph.D. in Bioinformatics.