The 2009 annual conference of the Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet), Asia's oldest bioinformatics organisation from 1998, was organized as the 8th International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB), Sept. 9-11, 2009 at Biopolis, Singapore. InCoB has actively engaged researchers from the area of life sciences, systems biology and clinicians, to facilitate greater synergy between these groups. To encourage bioinformatics students and new researchers, tutorials and student symposium, the Singapore Symposium on Computational Biology (SYMBIO) were organized, along with the Workshop on Education in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (WEBCB) and the Clinical Bioinformatics (CBAS) Symposium. However, to many students and young researchers, pursuing a career in a multi-disciplinary area such as bioinformatics poses a Himalayan challenge. A collection to tips is presented here to provide signposts on the road to a career in bioinformatics. An overview of the application of bioinformatics to traditional and emerging areas, published in this supplement, is also presented to provide possible future avenues of bioinformatics investigation. A case study on the application of e-learning tools in undergraduate bioinformatics curriculum provides information on how to go impart targeted education, to sustain bioinformatics in the Asia-Pacific region. The next InCoB is scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan, Sept. 26-28, 2010.