Bioinformatics vs. Biomedical Informatics

While both fields comprise interdisciplinary subjects, including biology, computer science, and information technology, bioinformatics, and biomedical informatics serve different purposes in medical research and healthcare.

Bioinformatics researchers specialize in the application of computer technology to manage, manipulate, and interpret large amounts of biological data. An emerging multidisciplinary field that has experienced accelerated growth due to the Human Genome Project (HGP) publication, bioinformatics aims to analyze genetic data to further gene-based research and discover medical cures. Researchers in bioinformatics use computational biology to create three-dimensional models to test the efficacy of new drugs.

Due to its multidisciplinary nature, bioinformatics attracts a wide range of scientific research professionals who hold master’s and doctoral degrees in genetics, molecular biology, neuroscience, epidemiology, and agriculture. Other professionals in this sector have advanced degrees in mathematics, computer science, and programming.

Many universities offer graduate certificates in bioinformatics; the International Society for Computational Biology has a list of bioinformatics-related degree and certificate programs in the United States. Graduate-level certificate programs in bioinformatics are also available through massive open online courses (MOOCs) such as Coursera and EdX.

Biomedical informatics professionals, on the other hand, use information extracted from bioinformatics to solve problems, reduce medical errors, lower healthcare costs, and make healthcare decisions using an individual patient’s biological data. Practitioners in biomedical informatics focus on identifying trends in the data discovered through bioinformatics to analyze the health conditions of patients and the efficiency of healthcare processes.

Health informatics careers are in-demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that medical and health information managers, including bioinformatics and biomedical informatics professionals, will grow 32 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is four times as fast as the rate for all occupations in the same decade (8 percent), adding 139,600 new jobs in 10 years, and nearly 14,000 new positions every year on average.

Coming from various backgrounds, biomedical informatics professionals have master’s or doctoral degrees and bring a diverse range of expertise to their research teams. Many are experts in epidemiology or licensed doctors or nurses with clinical experience. Others have professional experience in health economics, behavioral research psychology, and medical anthropology.

Johns Hopkins University (AAP)
Brandeis University
Arizona State University

Clinical research teams typically have biostatisticians and computer programmers to calculate and represent data for medical professionals and patients. The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has a list of featured biomedical informatics degree and certificate programs through universities in the United States. More than 150 health informatics courses are available from leading university health science programs on Coursera and edX.

Bioinformatics and biomedical informatics both deal in biological research technology to advance scientific knowledge, but each field has distinctive desired outcomes for their end-result applications. When faced with a choice of entering either field, it is important to become familiar with the relevant contributions of each field to know how they are unique.

Bioinformatics Biomedical Informatics

Bioinformatics combines biology, computer science, and information technology to further the knowledge of biological genomics and conduct research to discover cures.

Biomedical informatics analyzes bioinformatic data sets to customize cures for patients and streamline care processes in healthcare facilities.

Areas of Research
  • Agriculture
  • Biomedicine
  • Comparative genomics
  • Evolutionary genomics
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical informatics
  • Consumer health informatics
  • Health information management
  • Imaging informatics
  • Public health informatics
  • Research informatics
Work Environments
  • Academic medical centers
  • Agricultural settings
  • Hospitals
  • Outdoors
  • Pharmaceutical laboratories
  • Scientific research laboratories
  • Academic medical centers
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmaceutical laboratories
  • Research institutes
  • Scientific research laboratories
Sample Careers
  • Biostatistician
  • Computer programmer
  • Lead investigator
  • Professor
  • Research coordinator
  • Researcher
  • Software developer
  • Biostatistician
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO)
  • Clinical analyst
  • Clinical informatics manager
  • Computer programmer
  • Educator/trainer
  • Project manager
  • Research coordinator
  • Systems analyst
Typical Responsibilities

Bioinformaticians develop processes to gather and represent data, write and conduct surveys, design and execute clinical trials, and program statistical and three-dimensional models. They develop and compile massive amounts of data related to genometrics and consult with other science researchers to analyze and interpret data sets. Individuals with PhD or MD degrees typically lead grant-funded investigations and people with master’s degrees often serve as laboratory research coordinators.

Biomedical informatics specialists are people who work with healthcare outcomes. Health informatics specialists train staff and create educational documents for systems. Clinical analysts evaluate data while clinical informatics specialists digitize medical records. Clinical informatics managers oversee the daily operations of healthcare facilities including budgets, safety and regulatory compliance.

Tools & Software
Education & Training

Professionals in bioinformatics hold master’s or doctoral degrees in epidemiology, genetics, genometrics, pharmacology, mathematics, agriculture, or computer science. Research is encouraged in addition to classroom courses. Some entry-level laboratory technician positions are available to bachelor’s degree holders.

Graduate-level certificates and courses in bioinformatics are offered through several universities and through massive open online course (MOOC) providers such as Coursera and edX.

Biomedical informatics professionals hold master’s or doctoral degrees in health and clinical informatics, epidemiology, health economics, behavioral psychology, and medical anthropology. Many doctors and nurses come to this field from clinical practices. Administrative professionals in this field may hold master’s or doctorate degrees in healthcare administration.

Graduate-level certificates and courses in bioinformatics are offered through several universities and through massive open online course (MOOC) platforms such as Coursera and edX.


Graduate certificates and programs in bioinformatics and computational biology:

Graduate certificates and programs in biomedical informatics from:

Professional Organizations
The Bottom Line

Bioinformatics uses computational research methods to explore biology, genetics, and medicine. This field aims to process genomic data for research in drug discovery, biology, and medicine. Potential cures for diseases are tested using genomic and biological data using computer-generated imagery.

Biomedical informatics uses health data from bioinformatics research to collect, process, and analyze information. Data collected and represented in this field enables clinicians, researchers, and administrative professionals to make decisions uniquely tailored to the needs of an individual patient, healthcare processes, or healthcare environments.

Rachel Drummond, MEd
Rachel Drummond, MEd Writer

Rachel Drummond has contributed insightful articles to since 2019, where she offers valuable advice and guidance for those pursuing careers in the healthcare field, combining her passion for education with her understanding of the critical role that healthcare professionals play in promoting physical and mental well-being.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.