What do you call a biologist who uses bioinformatics tools to do research, but doesn't program? You don't know? Neither does anyone else. The names we use People who practice biology are known by many names, so many, that the number of names almost reflects the diversity of biology itself. Sometimes we describe biologists by the subject they study. Thus, we have biologists from anatomists to zoologists, and everything in between: addiction researchers ... Read more

I often get questions about bioinformatics, bioinformatics jobs and career paths.

Most of the questions reflect a general sense of confusion between creating bioinformatics resources and using them. Bioinformatics is unique in this sense. No one confuses writing a software package like Photoshop with being a photographer, yet for some odd reason, people seem to expect this of biologists. In the same respect, even the programmers and database administrators who work in bioinformatics, are unfairly assumed to have had graduate level training in biology.

In many ways, it's ... Read more

Last spring, I gave my first hands-on workshop in working with Next Generation Sequencing data at the Eighth Annual UT-ORNL-KBRIN Bioinformatics Summit at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee. The proceedings from that conference are now on-line at BMC Bioinformatics and it's fun to look back and reflect on all that I learned at the conference and all that's happened since.

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I'm a big of learning from data. There are many things we can learn about swine flu and other kinds of flu by using public databases. In digital biology activity 1, we learned about the kinds of creatures that can get flu. Personally, I'm a little skeptical about the blowfly, but... Now, you might wonder, what kinds of flu do these different creatures get? Are they all getting H1N1, or do they get different variations? What are H and N anyway? We can discuss all of these, but for now, lets see what kinds of flu strains infect different kinds of creatures. Activity 2. What ... Read more
Genome sequences from California and Texas isolates of the H1N1 swine flu are already available for exploration at the NCBI. Let's do a bit of digital biology and see what we can learn. Activity 1. What kinds of animals get the flu? For the past few years we've been worrying about avian (bird). Now, we're hearing about swine (pig) flu. All of this news might you wonder just who gets the flu besides pigs, birds, and humans. We can find out by looking at the data. Over the past few years, researchers have been sequencing influenza genomes and depositing ... Read more
I don't usually publish press releases, but I'm making an exception for this one, since your's truly is one of the Co-PI's. If you're a teacher within commuting distance of Seattle, the schedule and sign up information is here.
NSF AWARDS $1.3 MILLION TO NWABR FOR BIOINFORMATICS EDUCATION Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) brings the understanding of how biology and information technology interact to teachers and their students Seattle, WA - ... Read more

In which we search for Elvis, using blastp, and find out how old we would have to be to see Elvis in a Las Vegas club.

Once you're acquainted with proteins, amino acids, and the kinds of bonds that hold proteins together, we can talk about using this information to evaluate the similarity between protein sequences. We can easily imagine that if two protein sequences are identical, then those proteins would have the same kind of activity. But what about proteins that are similar in some regions, and not others, or proteins that only ... Read more

This the third part of case study where we see what happens when high school students clone and sequence genomic plant DNA. In this last part, we use the results from an automated comparison program to determine if the students cloned any genes at all and, if so, which genes were cloned. (You can also read part I and part II.) Did they clone or not clone? That is the question. ... Read more

This the second part of three part case study where we see what happens when high school students clone and sequence genomic plant DNA. In this part, we do a bit of forensics to see how well their sequencing worked and to see if we can anything that could help them improve their results the next time they sequence. How well did the sequencing work? Anyone who sequences DNA needs to be aware of two kinds of problems that afflict their results. We can divide these into two ... Read more
What happens when high school students clone and sequence genomic DNA? Background DNA sequencing is a wonderful tool for discovery and a great technique for getting students involved in molecular science. This fall, Bio-Rad will officially begin selling their DNA cloning and sequencing kit. Now, students across the country will have the tools in hand to begin their own projects cloning and sequencing plant genes. Of course, without bioinformatics there's no way to know what's been cloned or sequenced. This is where we come in. As part of an ... Read more

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