Genetic Future

Keith Robison notes that commercial DNA sequencing is now cheap enough to seriously consider generating and analysing a bacterial genome sequence as an undergraduate group-work project.

I think it’s a fantastic idea in principle, and would certainly give students a flavour of the reality of modern genomics – but the prospect of coordinating hundreds of inexperienced undergraduate students in a genome annotation project is incredibly daunting. This would take a very talented and dedicated group of educators to pull off successfully.

If anyone has considered such a project, let Keith know in the comments to his post.

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  1. #1 GWard
    March 9, 2009

    What a great idea!! The speed of the development of knowledge in the field of genomics and the consequent speed that it is incorporated into the classroom is incredible. I think that it would make a fabulous group project for the students to do such a project.

    Consider how quickly genetic manipulation lab exercise were incorporated into the Advanced Placement labs in high schools. Undergrads don’t even have the limitation of equipment.

  2. #3 Peter Bruns
    March 9, 2009

    That is exaclty what the Science Education Alliance of the Howard Hughes Medial Institute has started in a national course that involves bacteriophage isolation followed by DNA purification, analysis, sequencing and anotation. See special note is that the course is for begining undergraduates and is being run at a networked group of, initially, 12 colleges and universitites.

  3. #4 Trey
    March 9, 2009

    A recent paper in PLOS discusses something similar. The project didn’t sequence a genome, but it did use undergraduates to annotate previously sequenced metagenomes. It was titled “You can read it here at PLoS”>Metagenome Annotation Using a Distributed Grid of Undergraduate Students.“. I’ve been playing around with their software, Annotathon. It’s a great idea, could turn out to be something pretty useful for teaching _and_ advancing knowledge.

  4. #5 Abhishek Tiwari
    March 10, 2009

    That a good news, but just a small note for people who may not aware about this, HHMI supports the Bioinformatics Undergraduate Research Consortium in Comparative Proteogenomics at UCSD. The consortium provides an opportunity to the undergraduate and fresh graduate students to get hands-on research experience with real and unsolved bioinformatics problems in this upcoming field. Last year they made major breakthrough by publishing papers in high impact journals- most of them undergrads. finger crossed