Driven in part by the increased emphasis to give life sciences students hands-on experience in “real research,” the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Education Program developed a series of educational modules for undergraduate programs to explore and annotate publicly available microbial genome datasets.
Known collectively as the Integrated Microbial Genomes Annotation Collaboration Toolkit (IMG-ACT), this bioinformatics interface is currently being used at more than 126 colleges and universities by 250 instructors and more than 5,600 students.
The IMG-ACT toolkit was prominently featured in the January/February 2013 issue of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, which has a special section called “Innovative Laboratory Exercises Focus on Genomic Annotation.”
“The modern approach to understanding ‘what is life’ has been transformed by ‘–omics’ technologies from a reductionist focus on single moleculesin isolation to an interdisciplinary integration of experimental and in silico data,” DOE JGI Genomics and Bioinformatics Education Program head Cheryl Kerfeld wrote in her introduction to thesection. “The breadth of examples in these articles showcases the creativity of the faculty using these tools and demonstrates the power of genomics and bioinformatics for linking theory and modern practice across the life sciences curriculum.”
Both her introduction and the articles about IMG-ACT can be accessed at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bmb.v41.1/issuetoc.