Medical Bioinformatics


Welcome to Medical Bioinformatics

Medical Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that brings together computer sciences, the medical sciences and health care, to achieve better health for Canadians.

What is Medical Bioinformatics?

Medical Bioinformatics is the use of computational methods to solve problems in biomedical sciences. High-throughput technologies that rapidly generate enormous amounts of data (e.g., next-generation sequencing platforms), which were once considered "cutting edge", are now essential tools in modern biomedical and clinical laboratories. This module provides students with the necessary foundation in computing, statistics and medical sciences, followed by a series of unique courses in Medical Bioinformatics with an emphasis on practical skill development.

Medical Bioinformatics is...

Medical Bioinformatics (MBI) is an interdisciplinary field that exists at the convergence of medical sciences, computing, and statistics.  Bioinformatics was born from the necessity of integrating and analyzing the unprecedented amount of sequence data generated by the laboratories contributing to the Human Genome Project. 

As laboratory technologies continue to rapidly grow more powerful, researchers in the medical sciences are overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of their own data.  Western’s unique MBI program enables students to develop essential skills in computing and statistics in the context of solving problems in the medical sciences.

Honours Specialization in Medical Bioinformatics

Students combine foundational courses in both the medical sciences (biochemistry, pathology and physiology), computer sciences (coding essentials, databases and AI), and mathematical statistics (matrix algebra, probability, and Bayesian inference). Next, students complete a core curriculum of a third-year introduction to medical bioinformatics, and two fourth-year courses in genomics, epigenomics, or infectious disease bioinformatics. Enrolment in the module is limited and leads to a Bachelor of Medical Sciences (BMSc) degree.


Medical Bioinformatics 3100A/B – Introduction to Medical Bioinformatics

General topics in medical bioinformatics, including public databases, bioinformatic data formats, sequence comparison and alignment, and next-generation sequence processing (mapping, de novo assembly). Labs introduce the command line interface, working within the Linux filesystem, and basic concepts in utilizing open source assets, batch processing and the implementation of bioinformatic workflows.

Antirequisite(s): Computer Science 4461A/B
Prerequisite(s): Biology 2581A/B; one of Biology 2244A/B, Statistical Sciences 2244A/B or Statistical Sciences 2858A/B
Pre-or Corequisite(s): Statistical Sciences 2857A/B
Extra Information: 2 lecture hours, 2 laboratory hours per week. This course does not require any prior experience with computer programming. 

Medical Bioinformatics 4650F/G – Computational Methods for Epigenome Analysis

Bioinformatic methods for processing, analyzing, and integrating epigenomic data, the additional gene regulatory information beyond gene sequences. Students are introduced to best practices for quality control, regression analyses, differential analysis, and methods for functional enrichment. Data analysis will primarily use the R statistical programming language.

Prerequisite(s): Biology 2581A/B; one of Biology 2244A/B, Statistical Sciences 2244A/B, Statistical Sciences 2858A/B; and registration in Year 4 of a BMSc, BHSc, or BSc degree.
Extra Information: 2 lecture hours, 2 laboratory hours per week.

Medical Bioinformatics 4750F/G – Bioinformatics of Infectious Disease

An overview of concepts and applications of techniques in bioinformatics for the study and clinical/public health management of infectious diseases. Students are introduced to the basic analysis of conventional and next-generation sequence data, principles of maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference, reconstructing epidemic and evolutionary histories, detecting adaptation, and molecular epidemiology.

Antirequisite(s): Microbiology and Immunology 4750F/G.
Prerequisite(s): Biology 2581A/BBiology 2290F/G; and either Biology 2244A/B or Statistical Sciences 2244A/B
Pre-or Corequisite(s): Biochemistry 3383F/G if Biology 2290F/G has not been taken; Microbiology and Immunology 2500A/B is recommended.

Extra Information: 2 lecture hours, 2 laboratory hours. Cross-listed with Microbiology and Immunology 4750F/G.

Medical Bioinformatics 4850G – Genomic Data Analysis

Basics of data analysis and visualization using the R statistical programming language with a main focus on next generation sequencing (NGS) data. Topics include: fundamentals of NGS technologies; data formats and structures of sequencing data; effective analysis of different types of sequencing data (RNAseq, ATAC-seq and ChIP-seq) using R. Antirequisite: Medical Health Informatics 4850G.

Prerequisite(s): Biology 2581A/B; one of Biology 2244A/B, Statistical Sciences 2244A/B, Statistical Sciences 2858A/B; and registration in Year 4 of a BMSc, BHSc or BSc degree.
Extra Information: 2 lecture hours, 2 laboratory hours per week.

Medical Health Informatics 4980E – Seminar and Research Project

MHI 4980E (Seminar and Research Project)

Major research project and weekly seminar course for the Honours Specialization in Medical Health Informatics. Includes: i) theory and practice of research methodology and critical appraisal of research literature, ii) an independent research project supervised by faculty, and iii) preparation of a research proposal and final written research project report.

Prerequisite(s): Registration in Year 4 of an Honors Specialization in Medical Health Informatics.
Extra Information: Minimum 12 laboratory hours per week plus 3 seminar hours per week.