PVAMU Genomics/Bioinformatics Laboratory

 

Purpose and Goals

At Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), student research activities are modestly vibrant in a friendly, non-intimidating environment in the sciences, while interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects among faculty are rare.  Principally, the proposed project addresses (1) the need for involvement of our underrepresented minority students in hypothesis-driven research, and (2) the lack of interdisciplinary collaborative research activities.  As a consequence of this experience, the number of students who complete the required degree in the sciences will have research experience and furthermore, gain a greater understanding of the many disciplines involved in solving scientific research problems.  Hence, our project will contribute to the pipeline of channeling minority students into graduate/professional school or careers in the sciences.

Therefore, to serve the needs of our students, the overall goal of this project, is to build research infrastructure capacity in order to provide a strong research training environment in genomics/bioinformatics at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU).

This goal will be achieved by the following objective:

  • Provide training in new skills/technologies to enhance student research experiences
    1. Build a cutting-edge genomics/bioinformatics laboratory

(Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics)

Activity Overview

Completion of the Genomics/Bioinformatics room took place in summer 2011.  There are currently 17 computer workstations (16 students and one instructor. During the Spring semester 2012, sixteen (16) students enrolled in Biol 4061 (Independent Research), formally used the room to performed their Bioinformatics searches on their Fosmid gene projects.  The Genomics/Bioinformatics are emerging fields in which the traditional fields of biology, mathematics and computer science intersect. The existence of the vast amount of data on complete genome sequences would require an interdisciplinary approach of numerous scientists for the next ten to twenty years.  Our students at PVAMU are unaware of the opportunities in genomics and bioinformatics. Therefore, our plan was to engage our junior and senior level students in innovative genomics/bioinformatics research in collaborative research projects with the Genomics Education Partnership ((GEP), PI: Sarah Elgin, PhD) at Washington University, St. Louis.

Sixteen junior and senior Biology majors enrolled in my Biol 4061 class in Spring 2012 and became engaged in innovative genomics/bioinformatics research.  Annotation projects were obtained from the GEP website and assigned to the students.

Activity Outcomes

Students are afforded the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research (genomics/bioinformatics) on PVAMU campus. Annotation of the GEP fosmid projects enabled 16 more Biology students to become engaged in interdisciplinary collaborative research.  Another 16 students have already enrolled in Biol 4061 for the Spring 2013 to become engaged in Bioinformatics research.

Jasmine Hales presented a Bioinformatics poster at three research symposiums.  The research symposiums were (1) the national Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) In St. Louis, MO, in November, 2011; (2) at our local Biology Research Symposium in November 2011, and  (3) the Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics (STEAM) research.

Dr. Regisford, PI and Dr. Lu (CoPI) received two new grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The National Science Foundation grant of $299,977 entitled “Targeted Infusion Project Grant: Integrating Interactive Bioinformatics Learning Modules into the Undergraduate Biology Curriculum,” is under the direction of E. Gloria Regisford, PI and Yi Lu, Co-PI.

The USDA hereby awards a grant of $299,996 to Prairie View A&M University for support of the project is entitled “CBG – Bioinformatics Research for Agriculture Innovative Students (BRAINS)”. E. Gloria Regisford,PI and  Yi Lu, Co-PI.

            Establishing the Bioinformatics Laboratory has impacted students and faculty in the departments of Biology, Agriculture and Computer Science.

  • More students are engaged in interdisciplinary collaborative Bioinformatics research,
  • Students present papers at national and local professional conferences,
  • Bioinformatics Research collaborative efforts between the faculty in the departments of Biology, Agriculture and Computer Science, have increased, resulting in the acquisition of external funding from reputable funding agencies.
  • With the grants from the funding agencies will build on the traditional methods in which Bioinformatics concepts are taught in the departments of Biology, Agriculture and Computer Science by professors at PVAMU.

 

For more information contact:

Gloria C. Regisford

gcregisford@pvamu.edu