Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Bioinformatics (page 1 of 3)

Featured Graduate: Christopher Tran

Christopher TranChristopher Tran, Associate Scientist, Gritstone Bio

Program: Bioinformatics

Graduation: May 2023

Throughout my career, I have learned many different laboratory techniques, interpreted sample data, and scientific writing. I have always wanted to learn to program, but it was difficult to do on my own. When I found the Bioinformatics MS at Brandeis GPS, it seemed like a great fit. I chose Brandeis because they gave me the guidance, support, and opportunity to achieve my goals. The last two years at Brandeis was a great experience. It was encouraging to see how much support I had from my classmates and professors. Each professor has given me a new skill set that can be applied to my day-to-day work. The coursework is also very relevant to the professional work I do. I think Brandeis GPS team has done a great job in giving relevant material along in a challenging way to help the students learn and grow.   

In the Oncology field, I am trying to apply the bioinformatics skills I have gained in my day-to-day work. I am able to implement all my new bioinformatics knowledge in my career, whether using my programming skills to implement a better aggregation process or visually seeing the data better with graphs. With the help of each course at Brandeis, not only was I able to learn to program, but also to interpret data in an analytical way. The future right now for me is very unknown, but what I personally know is that Brandeis GPS has set me up for a better opportunity.

I think it is great that a small desire to learn a skill has turned into a major milestone in my life. I believe anyone can achieve this accomplishment with any help and support. I could not be more grateful for everyone in my life, especially for the Brandeis community and my support system (friends, coworkers, and family) for helping me with my accomplishment. I encourage everyone with small curiosities to apply and strive for their goals to make a bigger impact on their future.   

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Picture of Nygil Hayward in front of a sparkly blue backdropStudent Spotlight

Nyjil Hayward ’24


Lab Manager I: Laboratory Informatics at Delaware Public Health Laboratory

Program: MS in Bioinformatics

In his free time, Nyjil likes to play basketball, go to the beach, and hang out with family.

Get to know Nyjil Hayward! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?
When I was searching for a Bioinformatics program, Brandeis immediately caught my attention. The curriculum not only offered courses that were relevant to my current occupation, but also a range of other bioinformatics applications that piqued my interest. The program’s online learning format allows me to complete the degree at my own pace. This makes it an ideal fit for a full-time working professional like me. All in all, I believe that Brandeis’ program is the perfect choice for me to advance my career in the field of Bioinformatics.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?
I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and I had limited knowledge about bioinformatics until I stumbled upon the field while working as a molecular biologist performing NGS protocols on clinical COVID specimens. As I gained more experience in sequencing, I started collaborating closely with the lab’s sole bioinformatician. This experience sparked my curiosity in bioinformatic analyses and motivated me to delve deeper into the field. Gradually, I found myself increasingly drawn to the subject matter and eventually decided this is what I wanted to pursue.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?
My experience at Brandeis has been nothing short of amazing. Despite the occasional challenges in coursework, I find the material fascinating and the instructors to be exceptionally supportive. Through my studies, I have acquired a set of valuable skills that I have already been able to apply in my day-to-day activities at my current job.

What has been your favorite class to-date?
My favorite class has been RBIF 111: Biomedical Statistics with R. While I have always been fond of science, my passion for mathematics is unmatched. When selecting this program, I made it a priority to learn how to use R. With this class, I had the perfect blend of both worlds — the opportunity to refresh and hone my statistical skills while also learning how to effectively use R.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis?
As I transition into latter half of the program, I’m looking forward to continuing to explore the various bioinformatics applications in this industry.

What are your plans for after graduation?

Currently, I am working in a role that allows me to undertake various bioinformatics tasks, as well as oversee the department and serve as a Laboratory Information Systems Administrator. Pursuing this degree will not only supplement my existing knowledge and skill set but will also equip me with the necessary expertise to spearhead the development of the Laboratory Informatics department at DPHL.

What advice would you give to upcoming students?

My best advice would be don’t hesitate to utilize the discussion boards and seek help from your peers. Apart from textbooks and the professor, your classmates are a valuable resource. Additionally, the forums serve as a platform to ask questions and seek guidance, which can potentially offer benefits to other students.

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Headshot of Michelle Ysrael, Bioinformatics '23Student Spotlight

Michelle Ysrael ’23

Los Angeles, CA

Veterinary Technician at VCA Animal Hospitals

Program: MS in Bioinformatics

In her free time, Michelle likes to surf and read. She also likes to spend time with her cat, Lily, and her corgi, Cannoli.

Get to know Michelle Ysrael! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?
I was really impressed with the range of courses offered in the Bioinformatics program that provided the biological and mathematical background needed to understand how computational analysis can be applied towards scientific/clinical research. I was also looking to complete my degree in about a year, and this program offered a way to do that alongside a part-time work schedule.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?
I have been working as a veterinary technician since graduating from college to gain clinical experience, and wanted to expand my knowledge to be able to work in other areas of the veterinary field, including research and technology/drug development. I wanted to gain a toolset that would allow me to bridge the gap between bench science and clinical application, and felt that bioinformatics was the field most involved in this translational research. I also felt learning how to work with data would be a valuable skill to have in any career direction I took, and being able to learn how to do this through a biology-driven lens sounded interesting.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?
The transition to remote learning was daunting at first, but since learning how to make and stick to my study schedules and utilize the resources available through Brandeis I have felt much more confident in my ability to work independently. I have also learned how to efficiently use Google — there is a skill to it (lol). The required discussion posts have stimulated interesting discussions and helped me learn more about my peers and their lines of work and interests.

What has been your favorite class to-date?
I really enjoyed my last class, RBIF 112: Mathematical Modeling for Bioinformatics, because it was an extension to a previous class where we learned the basics of R programming and statistical analysis. In this class, we got to apply what we learned and use the tools we acquired to access publicly available datasets, process and transform data for statistical analysis, apply classification methods for data exploration, and build models for the investigation of biological systems and processes. The class was set up to allow us to find our own particular coding style and methods of data exploration.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis?
I hope to further develop my coding abilities and be able to more critically read and interpret scientific studies.

What are your plans for after graduation?

There are a lot of different applications for bioinformatics, which is exciting to me. I plan on eventually applying my knowledge towards animal research and wildlife management, and have been looking at jobs that span clinical research to environmental consulting, where I hope to aid in making data translational and accessible.

What advice would you give to upcoming students?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers! Setting up Slack groups has been so important in the remote learning process. Also go to office hours and talk to your professors, they are very knowledgeable and want to see you succeed!

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student SpotlightHeadshot of Virginia Breese

Virginia Breese ’23


MS in Bioinformatics

Scientist II, Foundation Medicine

In her spare time, Virginia likes being outdoors – hiking, camping, and even walking from the train in the morning. She’s working on completing New Hampshire’s forty-eight 4,000 footers and is planning a Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim backpacking trip this winter. She also enjoys crafting and any excuse for a DIY project.

Get to know Virginia Breese!

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?
I was initially drawn to the bioinformatics program curriculum. The course offerings were very applicable to my specific industry goals. After completing a couple of courses before officially enrolling in the program, I also found that the course format was an ideal balance between independent, collaborative and guided learning.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?
As a wet-lab scientist developing Next Generation Sequencing-based molecular oncology assays, I’ve worked very closely with and learned a lot from my computational biologist and bioinformatician colleagues. These collaborations inspired me to learn more on the data analysis side of my industry.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?
The program has been challenging but extremely rewarding. I’ve gained invaluable data analysis skills but have also enjoyed the shared progression along-side my fellow students.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis?
As I transition into the electives stage of the program, I’m looking forward to exploring the various ways in which my newly acquired bioinformatics foundation can be applied.

What are your plans for after graduation?
While I think I’ll always enjoy a role in wet-lab experimental design and some time at the bench, I hope to transition a bit more into the computational space, possibly bridging the gap between lab and analytical groups.

What advice would you give to incoming students?
I found that time management is key in completing this coursework, particularly if you’re balancing a full-time career while pursuing your degree. Also, try to embrace the discussion forums with your peers, even though it can be time consuming. Genuinely attempt to process the week’s information as a group. Some weeks you might see something a bit clearer than one of your classmates and some weeks you might need help digesting the material. This dynamic really helps everyone get the most out of the courses and also builds connections despite being fully online.

What has been your favorite class to-date?
This is hard. I value each course I’ve taken so far, each for a different reason. One favorite would be “Molecular Biology, Genetics and Disease” with Drs Ehrenkaufer and Ng. I appreciate the breadth of material that was touched upon in the course, including foundational molecular biology, a bit of coding, and even presentation skills. It was the most engaging fully online course I’ve experienced so far. I also have to mention RBIF111. Despite being the most difficult so far, I’m impressed with how much I learned in that 10-week period.

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or any other GPS programs, visit

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight


Photo of Minh Huyen Nguyen.Student Spotlight

Minh Huyen Nguyen ‘22

Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Foundation Medicine

Program: MS in Bioinformatics

In her spare time, Minh enjoys cooking, and volunteering for a non-profit organization operated by a team of volunteers who are international students and Vietnamese professionals around the world to promote activities and provide free courses related to STEAM education for Vietnamese young students. 

Get to know Minh Huyen Nguyen! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose to apply for the Master of Science in Bioinformatics at Brandeis University because I was drawn to its perspectives in providing students with the cutting-edge intellectual approaches to multiple complex biological systems through big data wrangling, synthesis, experiment design, and computational solutions based upon a multidisciplinary foundation. 

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I was always interested in science and technology, and how it contributes to the development of human well-being through biomedical research and practical applications with information technology. With my background in biochemistry and data analytics during college and then pursuing a career in the biotech industry, it really inspires me to choose to apply to the MS in Bioinformatics program.   

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

The lessons are structured well and really engage students with the contents from the courses, despite the virtual platform of the program. The weekly discussion forum also provides a good opportunity for the students to participate in the conversation with the classmates and the instructors, and to learn from each other’s perspectives.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I hope to take courses that would help me extend my knowledge about the useful bioinformatics tools and techniques and how to apply them to solve real-world problems in the jobs.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’ll continue to pursue my career in Biotech and further explore opportunities that I can apply what I have learned from the courses at Brandeis.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Be ready to work independently and learn from “outside of the box”.

What has been your favorite class to-date?

RBIF111, challenging but indeed a very helpful course.


Student Spotlight: Jennifer Faske

Student Spotlight: Li-Tao Guo

Student Spotlight: David Pattie

Looking back: the growth of Python

Since Guido van Rossum first released Python to the public in 1991, it has become one of the fastest growing major programming languages and established itself as the defacto language among varied scientific communities.

Python is particularly valuable to today’s forward-thinking industries and technologies, including data science and machine learning. Its intuitive platform makes it appealing for new programmers, yet it can also serve as a tool for more complex purposes.

Some of the features of Python include:

  • Minimal keywords, simple structure, and a clearly defined syntax
  • Code that is much shorter than former industry-leader JavaScript
  • A broad standard library that is portable and compatible on a number of hardware platforms
  • A mode allowing interactive testing and debugging of pieces of code
  • Tool customization for efficiency using added low-level modules

Master Python Programming

Brandeis GPS offers multiple online courses that teach the programming language specific to certain industries: Python Programming (FinTech), Bioinformatics Scripting and Python Programming (Bioinformatics), and Python for Robotics and AI  (Robotics). All three courses are available for professional development as long as students can demonstrate previous basic experience with a programming language (or undergraduate-level coursework).

Brandeis GPS offers rolling admission to our 12 fully-online master’s degree programs, so you can apply and be accepted at any time. However, we do have recommended deadlines if you are seeking admission for a specific term. The deadline to apply to our Spring 1 session is Wednesday, December 19. You can apply here. Those interested in taking a course who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still take up to two online courses without officially enrolling.

To learn more about GPS courses or graduate programs, check out our website or contact or 781-736-8787.

Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Disease

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical organizations are increasingly viewing bioinformatics as an integral part of their research processes. Biomedical industries are seeking to make use of vast amounts of genomic data to produce complex and accurate biological models.

Brandeis GPS will be offering Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Disease  as a part-time, fully online course this October. The 10-week course will introduce students to the basic concepts of molecular, cell, and developmental biology. It will cover classic genetics, from Mendelian inheritance to quantitative and complex traits, associations and population genetics. It will address the anatomy and function of genomes from humans and model organisms. Using the Human Genome Projects as an example, students will learn sequencing and mapping technologies. Basic sequence analysis methods will be introduced, along with techniques to navigate genome browsers and other relevant databases.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Navigate genome browsers and databases relevant to genetics and genomics.
  • Analyze pedigrees and apply genetics to identify disease associations.
  • Use techniques of physical and genetic mapping and sequencing.
  • Use comparative genomics to detect homologous sequences within and between organisms and to define evolutionary relationships.
  • Predict possible consequences of mutations and genetic variation within and outside of genes.
  • Use examples from developmental biology, human disease and immunology to illustrate genetic control mechanisms and mutations.

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online master’s degrees. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Bioinformatics, or would like to explore molecular biology to fill a bioinformatics skills gap, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787,, or submit your information.

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