This month, our featured resource is the Advanced Bioinformatics: Genetic Research website of the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR) (https://www.nwabr.org/teacher-center/advanced-bioinformatics-genetic-research#overview). Freely accessible to the public, this site offers General, Student, and Research resources, information on bioethics and consumer awareness, and a user-friendly Teacher Center for teachers of biomedical science. Last month, we featured Introductory Bioinformatics: Genetic Testing, and this month’s award goes to the companion feature Advanced Bioinformatics: Genetic Research, introducing teachers (and students) to more outstanding resources in this area.
On the home page (https://www.nwabr.org) select Teacher Center from the tool bar and view the pull-down menu to find Advanced Bioinformatics: Genetic Research. Click there to access programs and secondary-school-level curricula about using information technology in genetic research. A sidebar at screen left shows several subheadings: Overview, Lessons, Resources, and Links. Choose “Lessons” to access nine downloadable Lesson Plans and associated PowerPoints. The slides introduce people and careers in bioinformatics, with more details about people’s research than in the Introductory lesson plans. The Advanced unit focuses on using specific bioinformatics tools to analyze genetic sequences and structures. For example, Lesson Plan 3 has students analyze multiple sequence alignments, then create a phylogenetic tree to evaluate evolutionary relationships! The Lesson Plans are well-developed and provide clear objectives, lists of materials, procedures, homework, a glossary, exercises, questions, worksheets, and a teacher’s answer key. On the sidebar, you can click “Resources” to find supporting materials for the lessons; not all lessons are represented, but resources include a DNA barcoding animation, images of DNA chromatograms, and an excellent template for research posters. You can also click “Links” for an annotated list of online resources: The first is an “incredible animation” showing the “inner workings of mitochondria” Other links introduce you to Beyond Discovery: The Path from Research to Human Benefit, and The Genetics Science Learning Center (GSLC).
Introductory Bioinformatics, funded by a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), reflects NWABR’s mission of encouraging biomedical learning and understanding while stimulating interest in the field of bioinformatics. Their approach provides scientific information along with opportunities to use that information – career guidance is offered, as in part 1, but part 2 emphasizes applied science and actually using the tools of bioinformatics. For teachers and students already intrigued by introductory bioinformatics, part 2 provides a heady mixture of science, career guidance, and an opportunity to see whether this is the field where you belong!
About the Creators:
The Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR), based in Seattle, Washington, was founded over two decades ago to promote public trust in biomedical research and its ethical conduct, and to strengthen society’s support and understanding of research and participation in it. NWABR also works for high ethical conduct within the research community, mounting conferences on research use of animals and humans and on safety in research facilities.