Responding to the National Research Council of the National Academies’ call to “involve students in working with real data and tolls that reflect the nature of life sciences research in the 21st century,”
the DOE JGI’s Education Program, headed by Cheryl Kerfeld, collaborated with faculty members from several universities around the country to develop bioinformatics curricula that can be incorporated into life sciences coursework for undergraduates. The result, published online in PLoS Biology on August 10, 2010 is a platform called Integrated Microbial Genomes Annotation Collaboration Toolkit (IMG-ACT).
|Developed as a way to update undergraduate education, IMG-ACT provides faculty members with sequence data and bioinformatic tools while offering students hands-on experience with genome annotation. (Ditty JL et al. PLoS Biology, August 10, 2010.)|
Aside from Kerfeld, DOE JGI’s Seth Axen and Edwin Kim also co-authored the paper.
IMG-ACT offers access to genomes sequenced by the DOE JGI, including those done as part of the Genome Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea, offering students “virtually endless” research possibilities, bioinformatics databases, instructor course management and student notebooks.
Kerfeld and her colleagues noted that since IMG-ACT was launched in 2008, more than 100 faculty members and 1,600 students nationwide have participated in the program.
One of the results of incorporating IMG-ACT into college coursework has been a change in teaching methods at the University of California, Los Angeles, where all life science majors take part in an interdisciplinary laboratory curriculum that involves the IMG-ACT platform to develop a community of peer experts in bioinformatics.