Sunday, July 02, 2000

    Genome's already changing education

UC courses added for new science, terms

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Everything about the Human Genome Project is big, even the words used to describe it.

        Just printing the string of 3.1 billion Gs, As, Ts and Cs that spell out the blueprint of human life would take The Cincinnati Enquirer three years and four months.

        In fact, the genome is so big and so new that many scientists themselves still have to learn how to access, manipulate and analyze the data.

        Just to become versed in working with the massive genetic map, UC plans to start offering its doctoral candidates special training in “functional genomics,” said Dr. Robert Highsmith, UC's director of research and graduate education.

        “We've had to come up with new words just to describe this new technology,” Dr. Highsmith said.

        How about bioinformatics? That describes the computer software and data-mining skills needed to analyze the human genome data.

        Or proteomics? That's the field of studying which proteins are produced or “expressed” by various genes. This is important because new medications based on the genome project will be designed to accelerate or cut off such protein expression to treat disease.

        Internal training is key, because demand for genetic scientists is so strong, UC cannot expect to recruit all the experts it needs from out of town, said Dr. Donald Harrison, senior vice president and provost of health affairs.

        In its first year, UC hopes to train six doctoral or post-doctoral students in functional genomics. The university hopes eventually to offer training to all 375 doctoral students in nine programs.

Tristate riding genome wave
-     Genome's already changing education

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