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

826 ratings
193 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 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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151 - 175 of 188 Reviews for Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I)

By Todd T

Nov 9, 2017


By Evgeny T

Feb 9, 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 M

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 1, 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 Ambar N

Dec 18, 2020

Despite getting 100% in Week1 and Week2 quiz as well as passing Hacker's Track requirements, I got stuck in Week3 and could not proceed from there. The pseudocode for few of the algorithms is impossible to translate into workable code. And once you get stuck there's no help. Solutions are posted in comments but it's no use copying other learners' code to pass the course!

By Michael O S

May 6, 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.


Aug 21, 2020

This course is not for beginners. Should have mentioned that one needs some understanding of a coding language to understand the text included. You will need to know how to write codes and apply them before staring this course.

By Jan G

Dec 14, 2019

The course is basically abandoned. The figures in the interactive text don't show up and the are very few people available who can grade your assignment. There's no support left in case you're stuck.

By Elham G

Feb 3, 2021

This course was so confusing. I would appreciate to see a solved exercise rather than just giving a clue. It would help to learn better fast.

By Nur A A P

May 25, 2020

Tutorials are not well explained. Not for beginners!

You must have vast knowledge of programming and algorithm beforehand!

By Georgi E

May 16, 2020

Problems have very unclear directions. It takes longer to figure out what the question wants than to solve it.

By Tomas R H

Sep 17, 2016

Some of the algorithms are pretty cool but overall the course is not worth it. The material is pretty weak.

By Michael M S

May 7, 2020

Not simple and require pre-knowledge of a programming language (best to be python)

By Aiswarya K A

Dec 17, 2020

I am not able to understand quiz questions.

By Carlos C

Jul 13, 2020

it's not suitable for a non-programmer.

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 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 Andres 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)