Bioinformatics Interview Questions and Answers Part(1)

on 9:12 PM

Bioinformatics involves the integration of computers, software tools, and databases in an effort to address biological questions. Bioinformatics approaches are often used for major initiatives that generate large data sets. Two important large-scale activities that use bioinformatics are genomics and proteomics

. Genomics refers to the analysis of genomes. A genome can be thought of as the complete set of DNA sequences that codes for the hereditary material that is passed on from generation to generation. These DNA sequences include all of the genes (the functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring) and transcripts (the RNA copies that are the initial step in decoding the genetic information) included within the genome. Thus, genomics refers to the sequencing and analysis of all of these genomic entities, including genes and transcripts, in an organism. Proteomics, on the other hand, refers to the analysis of the complete set of proteins or proteome. In addition to genomics and proteomics, there are many more areas of biology where bioinformatics is being applied (i.e., metabolomics, transcriptomics). Each of these important areas in bioinformatics aims to understand complex biological systems.
Many scientists today refer to the next wave in bioinformatics as systems biology, an approach to tackle new and complex biological questions. Systems biology involves the integration of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics information to create a whole system view of a biological entity.

What is Computational Biology?
Computational biology is an interdisciplinary field that applies the techniques of computer science and applied mathematics to problems inspired by biology. Major fields that use computational biology techniques include:

* Bioinformatics, which applies algorithms and statistical techniques to biological datasets that typically consist of large numbers of DNA, RNA, or protein sequences. Examples of specific techniques include sequence alignment, which is used for both sequence database searching and for comparison of homologous sequences; gene finding; and prediction of gene expression. (The term computational biology is sometimes used as a synonym for bioinformatics.)

* Genomics, which studies the genomes of cells and organisms by high-throughput genome sequencing that requires extensive post-processing known as genome assembly, and which uses DNA microarray technologies to perform statistical analyses on the genes expressed in individual cell types.

* Systems biology, which aims to model large-scale biological interaction networks (also known as the interactome), often using differential equations.

* Protein structure prediction and structural genomics, which attempt to systematically produce accurate structural models for three-dimensional protein structures that have not been solved experimentally.

* Computational biochemistry and biophysics, which make extensive use of structural modeling and simulation methods such as molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo-inspired Boltzmann sampling methods in an attempt to elucidate the kinetics and thermodynamics of protein functions.

Sample Interview Questions: Bioinformatics

1. Tell me about the different kinds of DNA sequences.
There are three kinds of DNA sequences. Genomic DNA comes from the genome and includes both genes and extragenic material. cDNA is reverse transcribed from mRNA and corresponds only to the expressed parts of the genome. Recombinant DNA is man-made and is composed of artificial DNA.

2. If you had 1,500 base pair pieces of random DNA and you wanted to know how many of them had homology to known genes, what would you do to determine that?
I would use a BLASTX search against a known protein database - such MCBI's NR database. I would then sort them to determine how many were unique.

Sample Interview Questions: Discovery Research in Biotech

1. What technique is used to measure the number of copies of a gene or an RNA molecule in human tissues?
PCR or polymerase chain reaction in real time, as opposed to the conventional method, because the number of copies of the target molecule can be monitored for each PCR cycle.

2. What are the limitations of blotting techniques and what alternatives can you suggest?
The major limitation of blotting procedures is the length of time needed and the fact that they can accommodate only one probe at a time. DNA microchip technology permits the analysis of thousands of genes at the same time. DNA molecules are attached to the wafers in an organized array and are called the probes. DNA molecules taken from tissues are hybridized to the chips and are called targets, which are labeled with fluorescent light. The probes that have hybridized to the fluorescent targets are then identified by fluorescence microscopy.
Sample Interview Questions: Biotech business development analyst

1. Can you give me an example of a project you were involved with that illustrates your interest and skills in bringing people together?
I was the founder of the biotechnology club at my college. Although several other people co-founded the group, it was created at my initiative. We set up seminars where I got several key people in the industry to come speak to us on hot topics in the industry - like the agricultural biotech controversy and the ethical dimensions of stem cell research. The biotech club also sponsored a career fair, where we got over 100 students, soon to graduate, connected with over a dozen companies. I personally approached about half of those companies. I feel really proud about my contribution to this project.

2. How would you value a biotech company as opposed to a consumer products company?
Most companies are valued based on their growth prospects. That's what determines their stock price and overall dollar value, when they are sold. Biotech companies, as are other pharmaceutical companies, are valued based on the perceived quality of the products in their pipelines. That's what determines if they are going to have sustainable revenues and earnings. It's also why so many Analysts on The Street pay such close attention to FDA pronouncements.

3. What kinds of metrics would you gauge to determine the financial, strategic and operational health of a prospective alliance partner?
Several metrics are available in each sector you mention. To gauge the financial health of a prospective partner, I would look at product sales growth or I might look at whether they've met their milestones. To gauge strategic health, I'd consider their market share growth or, how well their customers have access to the company. For operational health, I'd again look to see whether they've met their milestones, how well they make decisions as gauged by the rating we give them and how quickly they resolve conflicts. Good evaluations in these areas suggest that the prospective alliance will be viable for both parties.

What are the limitations of blotting techniques and what alternatives can you suggest?
The major limitation of blotting procedures is the length of time needed and the fact that they can accommodate only one probe at a time.

What technique is used to measure the number of copies of a gene or an RNA molecule in human tissues?
PCR or polymerase chain reaction in real time, as opposed to the conventional method, because the number of copies of the target molecule can be monitored for each PCR cycle.

What is a Living Modified Organism (LMO)?

State one other desirable feature which could be genetically engineered into crop plants.

Name the bacterium from which the Bt gene is isolated.

What feature of monoclonal antibodies makes them useful for biochemical testing?

Other than forensic DNA fingerprinting, state another application of this DNA profiling technology.

What should be included on the gel to enable you to determine actual sizes of the DNA fragments?

State two advantages of using immobilised enzymes.

What term is used to describe animals which have had their genome altered by recombinant DNA technology?

Injecting live viruses to stimulate the production of antibodies is which type of immunity?

Describe how you would determine the number of viruses present.

Name the dye commonly used as the counterstain in the Gram staining process.

What kinds of metrics would you gauge to determine the financial, strategic and operational health of a prospective alliance partner?

How would you value a biotech company as opposed to a consumer products company?

How to run DOCK 6 using cygwin?

Explain Homology modelling?

5 comments:

admiralfrogpants said...

Thanks for posting these tips. Although I am well versed in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology it is always helpful to have a resource when looking at the field from a hiring perspective. Our Start up (http://www.dynemobiosystems.com) is about to begin another round of hiring and having these questions in my pocket will definitely help in the process.

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Interview Questions said...

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