The tools and techniques associated with large-scale nucleic acid sequencing have become integral to research in fields from medical forensics to industrial food processing. Increasingly, life sciences investigators need a basic familiarity with the terminology and concepts of genomics and bioinformatics. In addition, they may need a focused immersion into understanding how these fields can be applied to their research.
To meet this need, the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine offers the IGS Genomics Workshop. These weeklong workshops are open to anyone in the scientific community and are intended to give an introduction to the concepts and tools used in genomics and bioinformatics. While it is impossible to cover everything about these complex disciplines in just one week, the workshop can provide a context for the application of these fields to the attendee’s work. IGS holds the workshops twice in the spring and twice in the fall.
Dr. Michelle Gwinn Giglio, an IGS faculty member with an appointment in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, coordinates the workshop curriculum, and she and her colleagues from IGS teach the various modules. “The purpose of the program is to introduce people to commonly used tools and provide the framework for how the tools can be applied in the attendee’s work. By the end of the week, the attendees not only have familiarity with several popular tools, they understand how to find additional resources as they continue working on their own.”
Workshop attendees have come from every continent except Antarctica, as well as from across the street in downtown Baltimore. Attendee professional backgrounds are diverse too, ranging from faculty and graduate students, to researchers in industry or government agencies and include both biologists and software engineers.
The workshop curriculum covers genome sequencing and assembly, gene finding, functional annotation, comparative genomics, expression analysis, metagenomics, databases, and pipeline management systems. Hands-on exercises are included throughout the various modules using bioinformatics tools such as Sybil, Artemis, Manatee, Glimmer, Ergatis and others.
“Attendees want to be functionally literate with these tools and we give them a sampling of the most popular and useful tools,” explained Dr. Gwinn Giglio. The next workshop will be held May 16 – 20th 2011. Two more workshops are will be held in the fall. Dates for the 2012 workshops have not yet been chosen. There is a nominal charge for the workshops and more information about the curriculum and how to register can be found at the site.