Bozeman – Montana State University will play host to some of the nation’s most promising young biomedical researchers next week as the National Institutes of Health conducts a three-day workshop on campus for stem cell biologists.
The workshop, which will run Sept. 28—Oct. 1, is part of the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, and will attract 20 participants from around the nation to learn more about bioinformatics and computational genomics for stem cell research.
Renee Reijo Pera, MSU’s vice president of research and economic development and a leading stem cell scientist, said the meeting will mark the first time a Pacific Northwest or northern Rocky Mountain institution has hosted a NHLBI workshop.
“It’s an honor to have a meeting of the nation’s top stem cell biologists at Montana State University,” said Reijo Pera, who is a faculty member in MSU’s Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience.
“It gives us another opportunity to showcase the incredible work that is taking place every day in laboratories across our campus and to highlight why MSU stands among the country’s top universities as recognized by the Carnegie Foundation,” Reijo Pera added, referring to The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ranking that classifies MSU as one of only 108 colleges and universities in the nation (out of more than 4,600) that maintain “very high research activity.”
The NIH defines bioinformatics as research, development or application of information technology, such as computer programs, to analyze, store and manage biological data. Computational biology is an overlapping discipline that seeks to take a theoretical view of that data through mathematical modeling or computational simulation techniques in order to study biological, behavioral and social systems.
Genomics, or the study of genes and DNA sequences in humans and other organisms, is a discipline that has been revolutionized by the power of modern computers. A common bioinformatics activity is predicting protein products from DNA sequences.
Workshop participants will get a big picture of what bioinformatics and computational genomics can do for their research; become familiar with specific techniques in basic bioinformatics, genomics methods, databases and easy-to-use tools; learn the basics of programming and data analysis; get versed in best practices of documenting and sharing computational work; perform end-to-end sequencing analysis on their own; and gain hands on experience with data visualization, pathways and network analyses.
The three-day workshop, which is sponsored as part of the NIH Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, will feature instruction from some of nation’s leading authorities on how big data merges with laboratory science. Among the instructors will be a pair of MSU experts, Aurelien Mazurie and Charles Carey.
Mazurie is the director of MSU’s Bioinformatics Core facility. He is a biologist with dual training in computer science, specializing in bioinformatics and systems biology. He is involved with various genomics and metagenomics projects as consultant or co-principal investigator.
Carey is also a member of MSU’s Bioinformatics Core. This year Carey co-authored a paper published in PLOS Pathogens detailing computational research on a particular protein that plays a role in antifungal drug resistance and virulence.
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