Senior Bioinformatics Specialist Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
Background: As Health Sciences Libraries evolve, the support they offer scientists continues to expand, incorporating many aspects of the research life cycle. An academic health sciences library partnered with a center for translational research at a research university to offer trainings for scientists interested in bioinformatics. One such effort is a week-long intensive series utilizing free databases from the NCBI. A consistent challenge over four years of workshops has been the differences in biological content background of series participants. To address this challenge we added a basic genetics session to the start of the week-long intensive in the summer of 2019.
Description: In this lesson, participants were introduced to the central dogma of biology and utilized that knowledge in active learning sessions, with the goal of a shared understanding of the biological processes of transcription and translation. This understanding is essential to effectively using the NCBI gene and protein databases to interpret data and plan experiments. In addition to laying a solid content foundation, these activities set the stage for an interactive series and allowed participants to feel comfortable with the content and with interacting with each other.
Conclusion: Feedback for the sessions was largely positive with 86% of survey respondents indicating enjoying the genetics portion specifically. The activities utilized open access learning materials and could be adapted for bioinformatic workshops at other health sciences libraries. Future directions for the series include creating additional active learning objects that use problem-based activities to engage the bioinformatic databases.