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

762 ratings
174 reviews

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 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.


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.

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126 - 150 of 169 Reviews for Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I)


Jun 08, 2020

The programming assignments could have been described more appropriately otherwise the course material was quite great.

By Juana S L

Apr 22, 2018

I couldn't finish successfully last question but I don't know why. I believe I understand the meaning of the question

By Cagdas U

Jan 05, 2019

The answers are stale. MEME tool results don't match what they expect. It takes a while to find students to review.

By Максим

Mar 06, 2017

Есть недоработки, но вместе с комментариями других учащихся, можно разобраться в сути заданий

By Nghia L

Aug 15, 2020

Some parts are written in a way that is very hard to understand, but overall good course

By TeriLynn S

Jul 09, 2018

The two platform format is quite complex. But the material is excellent!

By Jack C

Jan 06, 2020

The course was very informative, but at points it was very confusing.

By Aditya B

Aug 05, 2016

Very well explained for both biologists and computer scientists.

By 정문필

May 07, 2020

Best lecture to dive into Bioinformatics first time!

By Iqra A

Aug 03, 2020

Not made for a biologist but for a programming man.

By Shiv H

Sep 28, 2018

Good Course but at times difficult to understand.

By Nikhil Y

Apr 19, 2020

it was an amazing course!!

By Meng Z

Mar 04, 2019

The course is great!

By Todd T

Nov 09, 2017


By Evgeny T

Feb 09, 2017

To be completely honest, I was expecting more from this course. One big setback is that the course material does not really go into biochemical fundamentals of what is going on, and instead jumps straight into algorithms. This might work for someone with enough background in biology who needs to learn to code. I, on the other side, have already had some exposure to software development and algorithms, but when Pavel mentions gene expression and transcription I have a very vague idea what he is talking about.

By Wesley R

Oct 11, 2020

Course was easy to follow and the explanations made sense from the instructors about half the time. The other half, the coding sections and pseudocode would be horribly confusing. The sections about random motif finding and gibbs sampling were particularly frustrating. I would say some coding experience is necessary to do well in this course in a reasonable timeframe.

By Hugo A M A

Jun 11, 2020

It´s too dificult. It says that this course is for beginners, and during the course they assume that we know Python or any other programming language. I passed the first week of bioinformatics 1, but I gave up with the second week. I recommend first doing the course "Biology meets programming".

By Paula T I P

Apr 19, 2020

You need an intermediate/advanced level in programming to be able to do the honours track, if you can't do it the course is completely useless because you can only read about how to code without being able to do the coding.

By Osi A

Apr 28, 2020

An interesting course that i would have love to study but with no computer programming knowledge, studying this course has been very difficult and not encouraging

By Zarif H

Jul 29, 2020

I strongly suggest anyone who opts to attend this course to have solid python fundamentals (or Java, Javascript, C, etc).

By Sama A A

Jul 01, 2020

Their is not enough explanation for the algorithms found in the video and code

By Aastha S

Jul 19, 2020

Pseudo codes are not well explained

By Steven K

May 14, 2020

The information presented in the course was very helpful; however, much of the presentation on Stepik was difficult to parse and required several reads through in order to understand what was being said. For some later explanations, I didn't understand the lesson until after I had created a working program. I also had to rely heavily on past user comments to clarify particularly difficult explanations.

The course was divided into a regular section and the "hacker track" honors section and only the latter of which requires programming. In theory, this means the course can be completed without knowing how to program since the final project doesn't require you to write code. In practice, the lessons seemed geared towards getting you to write working code. I think I would have been very hard-pressed to understand the course if I was not translating the lessons into working programs. I certainly would not have been able to get any good feedback on if I was doing it right since only programs were graded.

I have no plans at this point to continue the specialization. I want to learn more bioinformatics techniques, but I worry that the rest of the courses will be as frustrating as this one and so I will likely look elsewhere.

By Jonathon T

Jul 27, 2018

Instructions are often not clear and require you to read the comments to even grasp what the problems are asking for. Also the format for teaching is to teach you a bad way to solve a problem then go "well that didn't work out, lets try a different way." I felt these were a waste of my time as I sat around trying to understand why I was being asked to solve a problem in such an inefficient manner.

By Michael O S

May 06, 2020

Childish, pandering to idiots. The comics are mediocre and the professors don't take anything seriously. I cannot fathom how anyone would understand the standards of professionalism required of someone working in the Bioinformatics industry through this lecture series.

Terrible. Absolutely terrible.