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Conference to Promote Bioinformatics Education

Conference to Promote Bioinformatics Education
By Ronald Roach


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in association with the National Science Foundation, software firm Geospiza Inc. and Sun Microsystems are hosting a meeting to promote the teaching of bioinformatics in undergraduate education. The meeting will include hands-on practice with genomics, proteomics, microarrays and structural bioinformatics, in addition to discussions about how bioinformatics materials can be integrated into biology courses. The two-day event will be in Chapel Hill on Oct. 17-18.

Conference organizers say while bioinformatics has become a standard tool in biological research, it’s rarely taught in the biology curriculum. This lack of instruction has contributed to a growing technology gap between computational biologists and laboratory-based biology researchers.

As the need to work with large quantities of data grows, it is becoming critical that biologists become better data analysts, learn to define new experimental requirements, and become expert consumers of software and bioinformatics tools, according to conference organizers.

“We propose to bridge the technology gap by encouraging biology faculty to incorporate bioinformatics experiments in all biology courses and to begin a dialogue about what bioinformatics really is and how it should be included in, and change, the undergraduate biology curriculum,” states the announcement of the meeting by officials with the Seattle-based Geospiza, which develops bioinformatics software and systems.

The goals for the conference are twofold: to build a knowledgeable team of educators and to initiate critical discussions about the types of courses and curriculum that best prepare students for working in multidisciplinary groups.

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