Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology​​

Bioinformatics is the use of computers to analyse and store biological data, and intersects the fields of molecular life sciences, computer science, statistics and mathematics.  We live in a time when it is economical and possible to record the full genome sequence of a single organism, or the sequences of a complex population of organisms, or measure the level and chemical modifications of all proteins in a cell or predict the shape of small molecules that could bind to the active site of an enzyme.  This is the era of personalised medicine, reprogramming of cell fate, genome editing, evolution by design and synthetic life. These activities generate and require the analysis of enormous volumes of data.  This is achieved by the interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics.

sub-fields within the discipline of bioinformatics include -

Sequence analysis

This sub-field is where genomes are analysed and compared, the patterns and rules whereby genomes evolve teased out, or protein relationships studied.  This also entails the analysis of genomes in populations, and the identification of single nucleotide polymorphis​ms (SNPs), and the relationship of these SNPs to human disease or pharmaceutical efficacy at an individual level.  Related analyses are also central to modern agriculture. 

Structural bioinformatics 

Involves the analysis and prediction of macromolecular structures of RNA or proteins, or the architecture of chromatin and formation of functional domains in a cell nucleus. Recent success in the accurate prediction of the 3D structure of proteins based solely on amino-acid sequence, now also allows synthesis of custom designed proteins, where we can engineer enzymes that do not occur naturally to catalyse novel chemical reactions.

Database design 

Aims to provide the resources to help biologists to use large sets of possibly complex, inter​related biological data. 

Algorithm and tool development 

The development of efficient methods to achieve specific tasks, and the coding of programs to provide the tools to perform these tasks as well as future, novel applications. ​​


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