Ten students from across the country are finishing up a special course next week at Iowa State University in Ames that seeks to get a handle on all the genetic research being done worldwide. Robert Jernigan, director of the Center of Bio-Informatics at ISU, says students are learning the latest techniques in the bioinformatics field. He says bioinformatics is a new term that encompasses a lot of ground, but mostly relates to quantitative analysis of plant and animal genomes. Jernigan says more and more information is becoming available as scientists unlock the information contained in plant and animal genes. He says the sequence information from genomes is hard to interpret and it takes new approaches and methods to interpret the information, and that’s what this research is about. Jernigan says Iowa State is known for its work in agriculture, but the field is not limited to that work. He says the applications are broad and there are probably more people working in the health field. He says they do everything from trying to develop diagnostics for a wide variety of diseases. The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health supplied ISU with a $645,000 grant to conduct the summer institute for four years. Jernigan says ISU is out front in the field. He says there’s a dire shortage of people in the field and he says ISU was fortunate in starting training programs in the area before most universities. Jernigan says the type of biotech research done by graduates of this course is exactly what state officials have been trying to bring to Iowa.
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