You should have a fairly deep background in some aspect of molecular
biology. It can be biochemistry, molecular biology, molecular
biophysics, or even molecular modeling, but without a core of
knowledge of molecular biology you will, as one person told
us, "run into brick walls too often."
must absolutely understand the central dogma of molecular biology.
Understanding how and why DNA sequence is transcribed into RNA
and translated into protein is vital. (In Chapter 2, Computational
Approaches to Biological Questions, we define the central dogma,
as well as review the processes of transcription and translation.)
should have substantial experience with at least one or two
major molecular biology software packages, either for sequence
analysis or molecular modeling. The experience of learning one
of these packages makes it much easier to learn to use other
should be comfortable working in a command-line computing environment.
Working in Linux or Unix will provide this experience.
should have experience with programming in a computer language
such as C/C++, as well as in a scripting language such as Perl
to Cynthia Gibas and Per Jambeck, there are a variety of other
advanced skill sets that can add value to this background: molecular
evolution and systematics; physical chemistry--kinetics, thermodynamics
and statistical mechanics; statistics and probabilistic methods;
database design and implementation; algorithm development; molecular
biology laboratory methods; and others.