De­cod­ing DNA

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - COURSE FOCUS -

DID you know that you have the abil­ity to de­code your­self? Specif­i­cally, de­cod­ing your de­oxyri­bonu­cleic acid ( DNA) – the blue­print of life – will give you the best and most ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion re­lated to your health.

Dis­cov­er­ing the se­crets of life that lie within DNA can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove our qual­ity of life.

How­ever, there are three bil­lion letters in ev­ery per­son’s DNA. So how can you de­code it?

This is where com­put­ing comes in, where bi­ol­ogy is cou­pled with in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ( IT) to give birth to a new field of stud­ies known as bioin­for­mat­ics.

It plays a ma­jor role in the anal­y­sis of mas­sive bi­o­log­i­cal se­quence data us­ing so­phis­ti­cated com­put­ing skills.

The Fac­ulty of In­for­ma­tion Science and Tech­nol­ogy ( FIST) at Mul­ti­me­dia Univer­sity ( MMU) Malacca of­fers an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree pro­gramme that pre­pares stu­dents for the field of bioin­for­mat­ics.

The in­te­gra­tive three- year pro­gramme that en­com­passes the study of bi­ol­ogy us­ing com­pu­ta­tional and quan­ti­ta­tive meth­ods cov­ers the the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal as­pects of the field.

FIST se­nior lec­turer Ong Chia Sui, who spe­cialises in molec­u­lar mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and my­cobac­te­ri­al­ogy, says, “The data needs to be man­aged with IT tools in this in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary field. A sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent of our course is prac­ti­cal lab­o­ra­tory work and prob­lem- based learn­ing, be­sides lec­tures and stu­dent pre­sen­ta­tions in smaller classes. Project and in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence add an­other di­men­sion to the knowl­edge gained in lec­tures as well.”

Through this study, DNA sam­plings un­dergo var­i­ous pro­ce­dures such as cell har­vest, cell ly­sis, pro­tein di­ges­tion and DNA pre­cip­i­ta­tion be­fore one can ob­tain the fi­nal re­sults.

Bioin­for­mat­ics can be­come the tool that solves global hunger, pre­vents death by dis­eases, solves crimes and helps peo­ple live in greener and cleaner en­vi­ron­ments.

This pro­gramme is de­liv­ered through lec­tures and prac­ti­cal work. Stu­dents get hands- on ex­pe­ri­ence at well- equipped molec­u­lar and com­puter lab­o­ra­to­ries avail­able on cam­pus.

En­com­pass­ing all as­pects of gath­er­ing, stor­ing, han­dling, analysing, in­ter­pret­ing and trans­mit­ting vast amounts of bi­o­log­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, a ca­reer in bioin­for­mat­ics places you at the cutting edge of science where molec­u­lar bi­ol­ogy meets in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy.

The pro­gramme pro­vides a strong foun­da­tion in the dis­cov­ery of new drugs and vac­cines, devel­op­ment of molec­u­lar di­ag­nos­tic kits and new gene prod­ucts, per­son­alised and pre­ven­tive medicine, crop im­prove­ment and evo­lu­tion­ary stud­ies.

With lec­tur­ers who have ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in the field, state- of- the- art lab­o­ra­to­ries as well as good re­la­tion­ships with or­gan­i­sa­tions in the bioin­for­mat­ics in­dus­try, MMU pro­vides the best place in Malaysia to learn and get a de­gree in bioin­for­mat­ics.

MMU is of­fer­ing au­to­matic re­bates for ev­ery stu­dent en­rolled in its April in­take. Foun­da­tion stu­dents are as­sured re­bates of 5% while un­der­grad­u­ates re­ceive 10%.

On top of these re­bates, qual­i­fied stu­dents stand to en­joy schol­ar­ships col­lec­tively worth up to RM2.5mil.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www. mmu. edu. my or call 1300 800 668.

MMU’s bioin­for­mat­ics course is an in­te­gra­tive pro­gramme that en­com­passes the study of bi­ol­ogy us­ing com­pu­ta­tional and quan­ti­ta­tive meth­ods.

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