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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I) by University of California San Diego

948 ratings

About the Course

Named a top 50 MOOC of all time by Class Central! This course begins a series of classes illustrating the power of computing in modern biology. Please join us on the frontier of bioinformatics to look for hidden messages in DNA without ever needing to put on a lab coat. In the first half of the course, we investigate DNA replication, and ask the question, where in the genome does DNA replication begin? We will see that we can answer this question for many bacteria using only some straightforward algorithms to look for hidden messages in the genome. In the second half of the course, we examine a different biological question, when we ask which DNA patterns play the role of molecular clocks. The cells in your body manage to maintain a circadian rhythm, but how is this achieved on the level of DNA? Once again, we will see that by knowing which hidden messages to look for, we can start to understand the amazingly complex language of DNA. Perhaps surprisingly, we will apply randomized algorithms, which roll dice and flip coins in order to solve problems. Finally, you will get your hands dirty and apply existing software tools to find recurring biological motifs within genes that are responsible for helping Mycobacterium tuberculosis go "dormant" within a host for many years before causing an active infection....

Top reviews


Jul 29, 2018

This course is very very good. Challenging at times. It does not hold your hand at all times and sometimes requires research to solve some of the problems, but I like the community and the approach.


Apr 6, 2020

Excellent introduction to bioinformatics. They put a lot of heart and thought into the design of the course. I will continue to use the concepts I've learned in and out of bioinformatics.

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1 - 25 of 228 Reviews for Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I)

By Saif-AlDin

Aug 3, 2018

I have received financial aid because I was interested in the bioinformatics field and was reading alot about it and wanted to start my first course, it was my biggest mistake that I have chosen this course. It is awfully explained, terrible accent, basically a course with 50% information for beginners and 50% for coders and the quiz for week 2 just pumped my blood pressure to the roof, this course is in no way to be called for beginners and the interactive text is a mess and it is no way as a biotechnologist that I am going to recommend this course to anyone !, I need to apologize for coursera company for giving me aid for this COURSE !

note : this course is basically like a money grab, it is not enough that you are on their course they actually from Minute one advertise for their book vol 1 and 2... such a joke.

All in all I am stopping this course because the knowledge I am gaining from this course is 1 on the scale of 10, and the amount of confusion and frustration and disappointment I am getting is 10 on the scale of 10 !!

I really hope coursera can forgive my dropping out of this course and allows me to get a financial aid at an actual course

By Melinda B

Apr 30, 2019

This course is really frustrating if you are not a computer scientist.

The 'language-neutral pseudocode' given on the computer science tasks is buggy and hard to figure out and there is no support or solutions. This course is just hours spent rerunning your code by brute force to pray you get to their answer to pass.

Work is not explained well. The only reason to take this course is that its supported by UCSD.

By Deleted A

Mar 30, 2020

For computer scientists, not biologists

By Barry L K

Jun 9, 2016

Unfortunately, as often happens, what is "simple" and basic for one is not that for another. This course presumes a comfortableness with coding that I simply do not possess as a teacher of high school science. Please try and develop a true introductory course that normal, non-programmers can access. Thanks!


Apr 5, 2020

not for beginners

By Aderonke O A

May 30, 2021

I applied for financial aid to take this course because it was supposed to be an introduction to bioinformatics that doesn't require coding. I was wrong, after struggling almost a month I have been unable to get past week 2 because the assignments require coding skills. I am going to have to unenroll and I am so pained by this because I try to finish all the courses I get financial aid for. If you are a biologist with no coding knowledge I do not recommend that you take this course.

By 13- K P

Sep 21, 2020

The course is not for beginners at all. The course requires a previous knowledge of programming with python as they expect us to code without giving enough instructions. I found this too tough because of that.

By Guolong M

Feb 27, 2021

As others have pointed out, this course is not for beginners at all, in both biological or computer science (CS) sense. For example, this course assumes students have good knowledge of string manipulation (which many biological students don't) or good knowledge of genetic basics (which many CS students don't). Especially for biological students, some algorithm implementations (in the interactive platform -- stepik) could be very frustrating like recursive calls. The professors do not explain these concepts and keep saying something like "it's Ok you don't know this you don't know that" which I found is not helpful and actually distracting.

That said, I still rate this course 5 stars, as I'm not a beginner in both senses and found the contents very appealing. I'm actually very familiar with all the biological materials the professor offered; however, I found myself know much more and deeper than before as I understood the algorithms and did some programming practice. I'm convinced that the materials are well chosen that we can benefit from switching perspectives between biology and CS. The contents are also built up in a clear path such that the learning curve is smooth (under the circumstances that you are not a beginner).

Using the interactive learning platform is an absolutely gorgeous experience; I'm super-satisfied not only because of the easily accessible format but also the comments from other students make the course lively and engaging.

By Laura L

Nov 13, 2017

Very tough but rewarding class. The programming part was easy, the algorithms kicked my butt. Love the challenge and can't wait to take the rest!!! Such an interesting field!

By Maxwell S

Feb 1, 2020

Excellent course. The Stepik grading could use a couple of tweaks and perhaps a bit more debugging, but it was an excellent blend of bioinformatics, molecular biology, and programming.

By Alice K

Jun 28, 2020

Too confusing for me right out the gate, and I even have a little programming experience. I thought it was for beginners.

By Radek S

Apr 26, 2020

The strong accent of one of the teachers made me just leave the course after the first video, sadly.

By Tuğrul G

Apr 17, 2020

Videos and content are unrelated. Stepik application doesn't accept our answers even if it is true!

By Steven H

Apr 7, 2020

Excellent introduction to bioinformatics. They put a lot of heart and thought into the design of the course. I will continue to use the concepts I've learned in and out of bioinformatics.

By Daniel D

Sep 11, 2019

The material of the course is simply exquisitely presented. The concepts are clear, easy to grasp. You won't be a bioinformatician after doing this course, but you'll make the first step.

By Gema O

Oct 14, 2020

Very misleading and frustrating course. They said you don't need knowledge in programming for this "beginner" course but I find that untrue. This course is very difficult to follow for someone like me who doesn't know how to code. The pseudocode and the Stepik is even more confusing. The lectures are of no help. They barely explain anything and is very disengaging. The lecturer's accent is too thick to be able to discern. Maybe add subtitles? And then you have these quiz questions that seem to come out of nowhere. This course would probably be perfect for mid to high level programmers. Maybe change the course's difficulty level from "beginner" into "intermediate"? I wish I didn't waste my time with this course.

By Andrés B

Jan 26, 2021

The pseudocode that describes most of the algorithms shown in this course is very poor and misleading.

I honestly dislike the format of the project at the end of the course. I am paying for this course, and thus I do not have to be the teacher (evaluating other's people project) and I must be evaluated by a someone who really has knowledge of the topic and not by other students like me.

i am very disappointed with this course, I will not recommend it and i am not sure if I am finishing it. You should learn form the courses of Andrew Ng.

Best regards.

Dr. Andrés de Bustos Moilina (CIEMAT, Madrid, Spain)

By Manisha R

Aug 27, 2020

The course says no coding experience but every example has coding in it. If so they at least have explained basic coding but didn't. Poor explanation.

By Huairen Z

Oct 6, 2021

This course is wonderful. It helps me to learn bioinformatics systematically and make my python coding ability stronger. This videos and coding challenges are quite informative, it covers a lot of materials that I could study. This course not only enriched my knowledge on bioinformatics but also extend my views on biology that some questions I never thought deeply before. So, from learning this course, I also mastered some of my understanding about biology questions. Thanks for all the teachers and instructors’ endeavor to make this course fantastic. The only thing I want to suggest is that some Pseudocode is hard to understand. For finishing the coding challenge, I also checked information from Google. I would like to say that if the teachers provide more clues for beginners, it would be amazing. All in all, thank you so much for the effort for this course.

By Juris L

Jul 30, 2018

This course is very very good. Challenging at times. It does not hold your hand at all times and sometimes requires research to solve some of the problems, but I like the community and the approach.

By Gener A R

Apr 7, 2019

Good course, very solid community.

By Ognjen G

Mar 9, 2022

Poorly designed, confusing and not very engaging. Problems are not explained corectly, they use a Pseudocode which is useless in 2022. No programming basics, nothing, just straight into problem solving with zero help. Dissapointing.

By Bakhtiyar T

Jun 11, 2020

Take this course only if you are doing honors track, I cannot think of anything that you can learn from this course if you do not involve and improve your programming skills by applying them to the topics.

Videos were not very helpful, interactive texts were more informative. However interactive texts could not be understood in its totality were it not for the charitable efforts of few students to explain and clear out any inconsistencies in the discussion forms. Staff was not involved in these discussion forms and some of the obvious bugs and lack of explanations were not improved and fixed despite being mentioned multiple times during more than 5 years of the courses existence.

Lastly, they requested me to review/mark others students assignments in the last week in order for me to complete the course? That did not appeal to me very much since this course is paid.

This course could offer much more if they tried to improve it consistently overtime and pay attention to the reviews they get from students in discussion forms.

By Akruti I

Sep 29, 2020

how do i unroll ??? the course introduction explainined 'NO need of coding but needs hard coding skills' im enable to do the assignments .i want to leave the course and i cant find the option to leave.

By Marek B

Sep 17, 2017

This course was fun and very rewarding, I feel like I learned a lot about both algorithms and biology.

I have completed the Honors track---coming from a computer science background the algorithmic parts were mostly easy for me (I generally came up with all the algorithms on my own) but still fun to work through, especially because of their connection to real-world biology problems.

Interesting as the biological motivations had been they really only scratched the surface and made me want to learn more. For that I worked through the online MIT biology course [1] led by Eric Lander (of the Human Genome Project fame) that I cannot recommend enough.