MS Bioinformatics in Canada: Top Universities, Jobs & Salary

Today the world is moving towards integration. This phenomenon can be seen in the development of new career choices and fields of study. Bioinformatics is one such field. It has always been a critical field of study which presents an integration of computer science, mathematics, physics, and biology. In this post, we will provide you with an overview of Masters or MS in Bioinformatics in Canada.

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What is Bioinformatics and why is it important?

Bioinformatics defined in simple terms means the use of computational and analytical tools for the gathering, storage, interpretation, and distribution of biological data. Jobs in the subject of bioinformatics are frequently found in industries like pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, computational biology, proteomics, and medical informatics.

There has been an exponential growth in molecular biological knowledge in recent years, thanks to new genomics, proteomics, and information-processing technologies. The tremendous volume and complexity of data have necessitated the development of specialized computational techniques for storing, visualizing, and analyzing them. Certain techniques also require computational techniques in the derivation of data. Such techniques fall into the realm of Bioinformatics.

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With the onset of COVID-19, the demand in the field of bioinformatics has also widely increased. It was widely used to read and study genome sequencing during the virus spread. It contributed at a large scale to the development of vaccines.

Pursuing MS Bioinformatics in Canada

With something as interesting and in demand as bio-informatics, it is natural for students to be drawn toward the profession. While the study of the subject is highly comprehensive, this article is aimed to give interested students an overview of doing a Masters in Bioinformatics from Canada.

Canada has been a good flourishing place for many Indian students to pursue higher studies. Today, we are going to dig deep and have a look at the top universities in Canada for MS in Bioinformatics and the requirements they have, the job prospects, and how to prepare for the field.

Top Universities for MS Bioinformatics in Canada

University Program(s) Supervisor Required before Application?
McGill University (M.Sc.) Computer Science (Thesis): Bioinformatics
Master of Science (M.Sc.) Biochemistry (Thesis): Bioinformatics
Master of Science (M.Sc.) Human Genetics (Thesis)
Yes
University of Toronto MSc Computer Science – Computational Biomedicine (Research)
MSc Data Science – Bioinformatics (Concentration)
MSc Biology – Bioinformatics (Concentration)
M.H.Sc in Medical Genomics [course-based professional Masters]
Yes for all programs, except MHSc Medical Genomics
University of Waterloo MSc Computer Science – Bioinformatics
MSc Biology – Bioinformatics, Systematics & Evolution / Molecular Genetics
Yes
University of British Columbia (UBC) MSc Bioinformatics Yes
University of Alberta MSc Computer Science – Bioinformatics Yes
Queen’s University Masters’s in Biomedical Informatics No
University of Montreal Master’s in Bioinformatics (Research or Internship Track) Required for Research/Thesis Track
University of Guelph Master of Bioinformatics [one-year program] No
Dalhousie University MSc Computational Biology and Bioinformatics No
University of Saskatchewan MSc Biostatistics – Bioinformatics Specialization/Research
MSc Computer Science – Bioinformatics Specialization/Research
Not Required for Project-based Masters

Career and Job Prospects after Masters in Bioinformatics in Canada

If you are planning to work in Canada after doing a Masters in Bioinformatics, there are several industries that can provide you with good options. There are jobs available in the field of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, agriculture, life sciences, information technology, etc.

Information Technology

If you are interested in a career in the industry of Information technology, you may find employment as an analyst, programmer, research assistant, application developer, or database developer. There are a lot of prospects as well if you work as a network administrator.

Life Sciences

In the field of life sciences, Bioinformatics graduates may pursue careers as phylogeneticists, gene or protein analysts, or other research scientists. In addition, they may specialize in biomechanics, statistics, or molecular modeling. To find disease-causing genes, they use genotyping or genomic sequence analysis.

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Academia

Such individuals can obtain employment in university settings where they can teach bioinformatics while conducting research. Additionally, they can find employment in the medical field, where they can collaborate to recognize diseases and create medications to treat them, or they can work with epidemiologists to research disease rates and trends.

Pharmaceutical

People who are interested to work in the pharmaceutical sector, have the option to collaborate with chemists, pharmacologists, and toxicologists and contribute to the development of new drugs or chemicals for medical use.

Agriculture

For students who are interested to build their careers in the Biotechnology industry, it is important to know that biotechnology companies, especially the ones associated with agricultural and industrial organisms often hire bioinformatics graduates. They create new items there for use by people or animals, such as yeasts for fermentation or pest control in agriculture.

Top Paying Job Profiles in Bioinformatics in Canada

Bioinformatics Computer Specialist (Bioinformaticist)

A Bioinformatics Computer Specialist creates and maintains algorithms and computational tools to find duplications and other variants. This role’s key responsibilities also include installing and debugging computational tools. In order to deploy computational techniques and evaluate data, a bioinformatics computer specialist collaborates closely with researchers.

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Bioinformatics Specialist (Bioinformatician)

A bioinformatics professional uses computer software to gather, handle and analyze biological and biochemical data. Experts in bioinformatics usually concentrate on studying DNA and molecular data. In order to analyze and classify the acquired data, they might also create sophisticated mathematical algorithms.

  • Bioinformaticist not only knows how to use bioinformatics tools but also knows how to write programs for the effectiveness of the tools.
  • Bioinformatician is a skilled person who only knows how to use bioinformatics tools.

Bioinformatics Programmer

Algorithms for living materials are developed by bioinformatics programmers. They are in charge of managing sequencing and other computational techniques to produce precise biological data interpretations.

A bioinformatics programmer’s other responsibility is to develop the tools needed to track these sequences. Basic duties also include coordinating with other programmers, creating scripts for large amounts of data, mentoring junior analysts, and documenting technical concerns.

Bioinformatics Analyst

To create treatments for diseases, bioinformatics analysts analyze data acquired from extensive databases. Bioinformatics analysts are the ones who start looking at genomic data, closely working with academics. Creating databases and designing algorithms are two more responsibilities of this position.

Bioinformatics Scientist

It is the responsibility of a bioinformatics scientist to evaluate data, whether it be biological, statistical, or sequencing data, and to communicate the findings to the facility’s or company’s key decision-makers. As part of the position, you can also be building databases and algorithms, apply bioinformatics theory, and conducting research.

Bioinformatics Consultant

A bioinformatics consultant’s responsibilities include offering specialized bioinformatics services like API creation, NGS analysis, and data harmonization. The job entails working with software development teams and researchers to combine intricate biological data and offer answers.

Salary for Bioinformatics in Canada

  • Average Entry-Level: CAD $49,000 per annum
  • Average Base Pay for MS Degree Holders: CAD $67,000 per annum
  • Senior-Level: CAD $89,000 per annum

Sample Job Advert: Bioinformatics Specialist, McGill University

Primary responsibilities:

The successful candidate will develop various software applications and perform data analyses for genetic research projects within the CERC team. They will manage the complete development cycle, including the design, implementation, testing, and release.

The applications include web-based tools for genetic data visualization and querying, command-line tools for genetic data analyses on high-performance computing clusters, and cloud-based genetic data analysis workflows.

In addition to the software development, the successful candidate will execute and manage genetic data analyses and participate in results interpretation. They will report directly to the principal investigators in the specific research project.

The responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Design, implementation, testing, and optimization of web-based applications and cloud-based software solutions for genetic data analysis.
  • Design, implementation, testing, and optimization of software applications for genetic data analysis on high-performance computing clusters.
  • Debug malfunctions and optimize existing software applications.
  • Execute and manage workflows for genetic data quality checks and analysis.

Qualifications:

  • BSc/MSc in computer science, bioinformatics, biostatistics, or related field.
  • Strong programming skills in Python and C/C++ (or Java).
  • Experience in web-based development and related tools/frameworks.
  • Experience with SQL and NoSQL databases.
  • Desired – Experience with cloud-based computing
  • Knowledge of human genetics and experience with genetic data analysis is not mandatory but is an asset.
  • Ability to read and understand academic research papers and software documentation written in English, and ability to write documentation in English.

Featured Image Source

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage Operations at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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