Courses & Curriculum

Bioinformatics is an exciting field that involves the application of techniques from computer science, mathematics, statistics and information technology to problems in biology. Bioinformatics is a truly interdisciplinary science that teaches students both practical and conceptual tools for the understanding of biological information. Bioinformatics is important in all areas of biology, from human genetics to ecology, evolutionary biology, epidemiology and structural biology. Bioinformatics is transforming drug discovery, medical diagnostics and other biotechnology related areas.

This major is academically rigorous, requiring challenging course work in biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science. The major is ideal for students interested in learning about and applying mathematical and computational techniques to problem solving in biology.

The bioinformatics major provides an appropriate background for students interested in entering the job market directly after completing a B.S. degree, with positions typically found in the biotechnology industry or academic research laboratories. The program also prepares students for graduate work in such fields as bioinformatics, biology, computer science and computational biology.

Qualifications for the Major

There are no admission requirements for majors, but students without sufficient preparation in high school mathematics will have trouble completing the major in four years. Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all major courses. Note that a grade of B- or higher is required in CSC 111 and CSC 111 L. Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in order to graduate.


Students need to begin biology and computer science courses as soon as possible. The computer science sequence generally requires four years to complete due to the sequential nature of the courses, and biology requires two years to complete the core courses and a third or fourth year for upper level electives. 
A minimum of 120 credit hours is required for graduation with a bachelor of science degree in bioinformatics, with the potential for as many as 137 credit hours depending on the bioinformatics electives chosen. 

The program of study consists of Major Support courses that provide a solid foundation in biology, chemistry and mathematics, and Major Core courses that provide substantial background in computing and bioinformatics. Bioinformatics elective courses give the student an opportunity to engage in further study in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science or mathematics. Electives will be selected based on student interest in consultation with an advisor. The careful selection of electives will ensure that students attain sufficient expertise in a particular area of interest.

The bioinformatics curriculum is compatible with the pre-medical program. In order to minimally fulfill course requirements for medical school admission, students must elect three courses not required for the major: CHM 228 (Organic Chemistry II) and a two-semester physics sequence. These courses fit into the program of study as follows: any one of the three courses may be counted for the lower-division bioinformatics elective course, while the other two will be free electives. The additional three bioinformatics elective courses in the upper division should be selected from those most appropriate for the pre-medical program. 

Students with a strong interest in mathematics are encouraged to pursue a minor in mathematics in the probability/statistics track. This level of mathematical rigor will help to prepare students for graduate study in biostatistics and mathematical biology in addition to bioinformatics. 

For the mathematics minor, students will substitute MAT 112 (Calculus II) for MAT 141 (Statistics). Three of the four Bioinformatics elective courses will comprise MAT 211 (Calculus III) and MAT 351-MAT352 (Probability and Statistics).  MAT 230 (Bridge to Abstract Mathematics) and MAT 219 (Linear Algebra) will count as free electives. Students with AP credit for Calculus I should, in addition, elect MAT 321 (Real Analysis I). While not required for the minor, this course is foundational for advanced study in mathematics.

Bioinformatics Curriculum:

1. Core Curriculum Requirements: 
View the Core Curriculum requirements.  All students complete these requirements as part of their overall Canisius education.

2. Major course requirements:(19 courses)  
A. Support Courses (9 courses)
BIO 101/L Introduction to Cellular/Subcellular Biology 4 credits
BIO 102/L Organismal Biology 4 credits
BIO 203 Cellular Biochemistry 3 credits
CHM 111/L – 112/L General Chemistry 8 credits
CHM 227/L Organic Chemistry I 4 credits
MAT 111 Calculus I 4 credits
MAT 141 Inferential Statistics and Computers for Science 4 credits
MAT 191 Introduction to Discrete Mathematics 4 credits

B. Core Courses
 (10 courses)
BIF 101 Introduction to Bioinformatics 3 credits
CSC 111/L Introduction to Programming 4 credits
CSC 212/L Data Structures 4 credits
CSC 213/L Large Scale Programming 4 credits
CSC 310/L Information Organization and Processing 4 credits
BIF 400 Bioinformatics Capstone course   3 credits       
Bioinformatics electives: four courses, three of which
must be at the 300/400 level
12-20 credits
   BIO 404 Genetics
   BIO 408 Biotechnology
   BIO 412 Evolution and Development
   BIO 419 Cell Biology
   BIO 432 Developmental Biology
   BIO 450 Molecular Biology
   CHM 228 Organic Chemistry II
   CHM 236 Physical Chemistry for Health Sciences
   CHM 301-302 Classical Physical Chemistry
Computer Science:  
   CSC 281 Automata Theory and Algorithms
   CSC 313 Advanced Programming Topics
   CSC 325 Computer Graphics
   CSC 330 Distributed Computing
   CSC 351 Comparative Programming Languages
   CSC 360 Intelligent Systems
   CSC 380 Web Development
   CSC 395 Software Engineering
   MAT 112 Calculus II
   MAT 211 Calculus III
   MAT 219 Linear Algebra
   MAT 222 Differential Equations
   MAT 341 Numerical Analysis
   MAT 351-2 Probability and Statistics
   MAT 354 Experimental Design and Statistical Computing
   PHY 201-202 General Physics
   PHY 223-224 General Physics for Physical Science Majors
   PHY 360 Scientific Modeling 

3.  Free electives:
Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach a minimum of 120 credit hours for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.


BIF 101 Introduction to Bioinformatics                          3 credits
This course introduces students to the field of bio-informatics, including on-line computational resources, basic programming concepts, genetics, sequence analysis, algorithm development and ethical issues. Every Fall.

BIF 400 Bioinformatics Capstone Course                        3 credits
This course covers fundamental algorithms in bioinformatics, including analysis and application. In addition, students study ethical, legal and social issues related to bioinformatics. Students design and implement a solution to a current bioinformatics problem and evaluate the results. Documentation, software development or adaptation and oral presentation are required. Fall 2009

BIF 499 Bioinformatics Internship                                     3 credits
Students are strongly encouraged to take part in a bioinformatics internship, which typically would take place in a research laboratory or biotechnology firm. Application and faculty advisor approval required. Note that this course cannot count as a bioinformatics elective.