[BiO BB] The so called National Bioinformatics Institute (NBI)

Jimmy Chao cchao at rcsb.rutgers.edu
Tue Oct 15 20:44:50 EDT 2002


You did an excellent job in digging out these info about NBI. Actually I
went to their seminar once to figure out what they are offering. From the
material they offer, I would say the certificate worth nothing. Because the
material and exam are too simple. It just offer an introductory about
bioinfromatics for people who have no much background. They even take
student without any biology or computer background. The course is about 2-3
months, it  covers basic molecule & genetics biology, and perl, GCG,
bioinformatics databases etc.
A person can only pick up very little with very short period of time.

I am working in Protein Data Bank as developer for complex search engine. I
have both biology and computer science degree, and working on my Ph.D. in
biomedical informatics as well. I have been looking for a job in
bioinformatics industry for about 2 years. Although some recruiters called
me up, but never get a chance to interview. The reason is simple, the
bioinformatics industry needs people who is an expert in biology and know
something about computer. The main issues stay in biology problem and only
the biologist know what to do. If they need someone to develop software,
they don't need junior programmer to know biology. The need very experience
programmer/developer and the biologist can tell them what to do. Besides,
bioinformatics is a term for any combination of biology and computer. The
most interesting part is to find gene related to a disease, and design a
drug to cure that disease. However, this model haven't prove to work the way
people expect. Maybe it's still too early to exam the result. Maybe there
are some drugs being developed this way (come on, it's business secret). I
would say using bioinformatics technique may reduce a bit trial and error
effort, but majority work still rely on a lot of wet lab experiment and
pre-clinical trial.

NBI exaggerate the job market in bioinformatics and their certificate is
just their own program. Who care about this piece of paper? It's not worth
wasting time & money for that certificate. Their ceriticate won't be as
valuable as MCSE, JAVA, ORACLE or CISCO.

You may know Protein Data Bank is the world-wide depository of protein &
nucleic acid structures. You may have a beter idea about PDB at this link
This is a purely bioinformatics field, and many researchers rely on 3D
structure to develope drugs and other application. And New Jersey is a based
for many pharmaceutical companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, Merch,
Aventis, Schering-Plough, etc. However, staffs in PDB don't find many job
oppertunity in industry.
For me, I feel frustrate in job hunting for two years. I'll either focus on
drug design or bioinformatics data mining/search engine. The drug design may
lead me to find a job in pharmaceutical company, while bioinformatics data
mining/search engine may keep my job in PDB to build plateform that for
public access for free.

 Chi-Ming Jimmy Chao     http://ndb.dyndns.org

 Protein Data Bank       http://www.pdb.org
 Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics
 Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

 Phone:  (732) 397-8840
 Fax:    (732) 445-4320

----- Original Message -----
From: "marge marge" <marge_geek at yahoo.com>
To: <bio_bulletin_board at bioinformatics.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 15, 2002 7:18 PM
Subject: [BiO BB] The so called National Bioinformatics Institute (NBI)

> Hello everyone,
> The first time I came across the name of  'National
> Bioinformatics Institute' (NBI) (
> http://www.bioinfoinstitute.com/default.htm ) was on
> an ad by a vocational school for a certification
> program in bioinformatics. I checked NBI's web site
> and it sounded great and exactly what I wanted. I have
> all the needed programing skills and I have most of
> the required computational biology and sequence
> analysis algorithms that are needed in bioinformatics.
> Since I didn't have any professional experience in the
> field, I figured some certification would be very
> useful. I didn't know any people working in the
> industry to consult so I decided to register in one of
> these programs. There are many schools offering such
> programs leading to NBI's "certified bioinformatics
> specialist" (CBS) and it seems that it has become
> popular . For example,
> http://www.xintrausa.com/bioinf_pg.htm
> These schools are good for people wanting to get
> certified in IT fields. The level and standard of what
> they teach is not very high but at least the
> certification exams are written and administered by
> companies like Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Cisco, etc.
> However, for bioinformatics, this NBI outfit sounds
> very suspect to say the least and I am afraid tens of
> people are wasting lots of money on programs and
> certifications.
> The first thing I noticed about NBI's material was the
> FAQ. It was copied from bioinformatics.org with no
> credit or at least a link. So I decided to examine the
> content of the web site further and it turns out that
> nearly every thing on the site is copied from other
> sources with no trace of credit or acknowledgment.
> The sections titled "Bioinformatics Resources",
> "Genomics", "Education", "Employment", "Software",
> "Pharmaceutical Companies" are copied from the
> "Biotechnology Information Directory" Section of  "The
> World Wide Web Virtual Library" :
> http://www.cato.com/biotech/index.html
> The section titled "Job Market News - Bioinfo Events"
> is copies (not links) of  articles from other sources
> (including the copyright notice and logos of the
> original publisher.)
> If copying links and FAQS without credit is not bad
> enough, it gets worse! The documentation of their own
> certification program,
> http://www.bioinfoinstitute.com/bio_certi.htm
> is copied from bioninformatics.ca (with few words
> changed) :
> http://www.bioinformatics.ca/programhandbook.pdf
> NBI also just started a chemoinformatics certification
> program but, you guessed it, the material on this
> program seems to be swiped from elsewhere. The section
> titled "chemoinformatics resources" is exactly the
> same as this page at Indiana University:
> http://www.indiana.edu/~cheminfo/informatics/cinformhome.html
> The material on "what is chemoinformatics" and
> "chemoinformatics certification" also appears on NC
> State' s computer training unit:
> http://www.ncsu.edu/ctu/codes/chem.htm
> but I am not sure who is copying from whom in this
> case.
> The person(s) behind NBI might be qualified or even
> experienced in bioinformatics and the exam might be
> very good but judging from the material on the web
> site, I wouldn't hold my breath. I have decided not to
> take the exam although I paid for the program (not for
> the NBI exam luckily!). I don't think any of the
> people registering in these course and paying $400 to
> NBI for the exam know any of the info I just posted.
> If you get a chance to publicize how NBI seems not to
> care about ethics and plagiarism, please do.
> Marge.
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