After three back-to-back successful years, the Bioinformatics & Computational Biology Summer Program is back in 2023 as well. Like in previous years, it will be conducted online. This online program is built to give a broad overview of molecular biology, systems biology, and bioinformatics analysis through user-friendly software tools. Students will also learn how to apply bio-statistics, and data analytics to tackle a variety of challenges within drug discovery and biomedical sciences.
In the past decade, there has been a strong push for better exposure, recruitment, and training of high school students in the US, UK, and Europe to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related fields. Of course, coding, robotics & AI stole the limelight in the media and news. However, educators have been also focussing on bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary focus with roots in computer science, molecular biology, genetics, and mathematics.
What is Bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is a multidisciplinary field that links biology, bio-medicine, proteomics, genomics, genetic engineering, mathematics, and computer science.
Bioinformatics is a modern, growing scientific field created by the intersection of biology, computer science, and information technology to support the storage, organization, and retrieval of biological data.
Broadly viewed, the field of bioinformatics incorporates three main areas: 1) genomics, 2) proteomics, and 3) systems biology.
Bioinformatics is a Core STEM field
The global approach to the study of biological data includes different matters and collaborations between professions in biology, physics, mathematics, biomedicine, and computer science in the idea of the complexity of science. Bioinformatics refers to the possibility for analysis and comparison of:
- Genomes (the whole genetic information of a given organism)
- Transcriptomes (the full set of RNAs of a given organism)
- Proteomes (the full set of proteins of a given organism)
Curriculum of Bioinformatics & Computational Biology Summer Program 2023 (Online)
|Day 1||Introduction to Bioinformatics, Genomics, Proteomics.|
Practical: Isolation of DNA from Strawberry.
|Day 2||Introduction to Bioinformatics Tools & Databases|
Primary Database: NCBI, RCSB, PDB;
Secondary Database: UniProt & Sequence Retrieval
|Day 3||Hands-on Learning: Protein Homology Modelling, and 3D Protein Structure Prediction|
|Day 4||Hands-on Learning: Evolution of Novel Corona Virus with BLAST Software|
|Day 5||Hands-on Learning: Biostatistics & Computer-Aided Drug Designing|
Summer Program Dates, Timings, Fee, and Registration Process
- May 22 – 26 (1st Batch) – Afternoon Classes
- June 5 – 9 (2nd Batch) – Evening Classes
- 1st Batch: 4 – 6 pm (IST)
- 2nd Batch: 6:30 – 8:30 pm (IST)
- Regular Fee: Rs. 10,000 (plus GST)
- Early-Bird Fee: Rs. 8,000 (plus GST) – Deadline: Apr 15, 2023
Wish to Attend the Bioinformatics Summer Program?
Importance of Bioinformatics in Modern Healthcare & Medicine
Biology in the 21st century is expanding from a purely laboratory-based science to an information-aided one.
Recent developments in both molecular biology and information technology have made biological data much more readily available to scientists and to educational institutions, and this growing amount of data has created an “absolute requirement” for the use of computers to organize, analyze, and process such information. Know more about the scopes and applications of bioinformatics in medicine and biotechnology.
Market Demand for Bioinformatics
With the completion of the Human Genome Project 2001 and the Human Proteome Project, a large volume of information has been produced which has given a fresh dimension to proteomic and genomic analysis profiling.
The information produced from these initiatives has fueled worldwide bioinformatics market growth owing to increasing demand for data management instruments and platforms, data retrieval, sequence alignment, structure prediction, and other bioinformatics applications.
The bioinformatics market was valued at USD 7305.82 million in 2017 and is anticipated to record a CAGR of about 20.75% during the forecast period 2018-2023.
Objective of Bioinformatics
Bioinformatics is used to understand and treat genetic conditions, discern evolutionary relationships, and learn about how diseased cells and/or proteins (e.g. cancer cells) differ from normal cells and/or proteins.
According to the NCBI, “the ultimate goal of the field [bioinformatics] is to enable the discovery of new biological insights as well as to create a global perspective from which unifying principles in biology can be discerned”.
With bioinformatics it is possible to identify disease-associated genes & genetic markers; predict three-dimensional structures of protein and organism evolution; design new drugs; and data sharing.
Bioinformatics in the High School Curriculum
Bioinformatics has been taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels since the 2000s. But, the efforts of introducing high school students to bioinformatics started only in 2012 – 2013.
In the US, survey findings indicated a generally low representation of bioinformatics-related content, which varied substantially across the different areas, with Human Genome Project/genomics and computer use being the lowest (8%), and evolution being the highest (64%) among states’ science frameworks.
This leaves high school science education lagging behind cutting-edge scientific discoveries, which hold great potential for supporting students’ understanding and eliciting their interest and motivation to learn science.
So why is bioinformatics rarely included in biology courses?
According to Jodie Spitze (nationally board-certified science teacher at Kent-Meridian High School, where she has taught biology and IB biology for 8 years) – “it’s primarily because few teachers know where to begin. With the rapid pace at which science advances, science teachers are often confronted with the challenge of staying current.”
Another factor is cost. Proteins and genes cannot be observed by the human eye. Expensive equipment is needed to visualize these molecules. And even then it remains to be seen whether students would gain a better understanding of the processes and functions.
Cheaper and probably more helpful is a computer-based approach. Using 3D software, you will be able to see a certain protein from all different angles. You can zoom in, turn the protein around, and select specific amino acids. A protein structure can be downloaded from the Protein Data Bank.
Other databases make it possible to show the structure of genes in a scientific way. You can simply zoom in on a gene and distinguish the exons, introns, and regulating domains. You can even make simplistic phylogenetic trees or look directly at proteins that are related to your protein of interest.
Several initiatives are being taken to ensure exposure to the high-quality curriculum developed for high school students, and the opportunity to learn from researchers who are using bioinformatics every day.
Due to its interdisciplinary nature, bioinformatics requires a large learning curve. It is difficult to design programs for exposure and recruitment in bioinformatics for students below the college level, so much so that there are only a handful of activities appropriate for high school students.
Other Top Summer Programs on Bioinformatics for High School Students
Here are a few top summer programs and internships in Bioinformatics and Computation Biology in the US
With the above programs, either the competition to get in is very high (20 – 50 students get selected out of 500 – 2,000 applications), or the program fee is too expensive for Indian high school students (USD $1,500 – $3,500 for 2 – 4 weeks).
Wish to Attend the Bioinformatics Summer Program?
Featured Image Source: Stanford Online