Okay, all of you biochemists and molecular biology types. I have a puzzle for you that I found by accident during a lecture. Yes, I was the one lecturing and the notes will be posted soon. In the meantime, here's your puzzle: What's unusual about this pair of bases?


... Read more
i-ba347d980e861564c774555d0a24afcf-phone.jpgIt was only a couple of weeks ago but it seems like years. I had spent a month learning how to use most of the features on my shiny new phone and we were in Alaska using Google maps to find our way around Fairbanks. My thumbs were getting sore, but so what? I could a give a slide show on my phone, I could read my Gmail messages, and we could find a friend's house in the Google map satellite ... Read more
What happens when a biologist tries to talk with the IT group? Needless to say, they don't speak the same language. Reposted from the archives. Imagine this. You've been sequencing DNA for a few years now, perhaps ESTs, or something else, and storing files on your local network. Your system administrator makes backup files for you and all is well. But one day you learn about interesting results that other people are getting by assembling sequence data themselves and you decide to try it, too. Watch out! You are about to descend into bioinformatics hell. Soon you ... Read more
i-6d3784373c1ae06545f859a0aec5dcd9-dnai.gifIf we asked any biologist to pick the five most important techniques in biology, that list would certainly include PCR. 

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. It's used everywhere. We use it to amplify DNA for cloning, we use it for diagnostic tests, ... Read more

Quoth Dr. Stemwedel, from Adventures in Science and Ethics. In the case of Universities and four-yr colleges, I completely agree. If you're looking for job training, go to a community college. This post is in response to one of the comments from the other day. This commenter expressed frustration at having a completed a bioinformatics training program that ... Read more
Know your biology! I get asked often about the type of bioinformatics training that students should get and whether it should be a special course or not. And I answer that I think teaching bioinformatics in the absence of biology is like teaching Microsoft Word in the absence of writing. There isn't much point.


So I was happy, to discover from BioInform, that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. To quote Lincoln Stein:
I hope to see bioinformatics becoming a tool like molecular biology that everybody uses, and that ... Read more
How does grass grow in the extremely hot soils of Yellowstone National Park? Could a protein from a virus help plants handle global warming? Okay, that second sentence is wild speculation, but we will try to find the answer to our mystery by aligning our protein sequence to a sequence from a related structure.

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Read part I, part II, ... Read more
I never thought that writing a blog would provide such a wonderful chance to learn from the community. In these past few days, I have learned so much from readers about finding and accessing information. Now, I want to share their knowledge with those of you who might not be checking the comments sections of my posts. I'm sure you, too, will be thankful for their contribution. The first set of great suggestions is here and next, the real information experts, the ... Read more
i-8295f915da92d0ca11a67cd144057d90-rhodies.jpgThe first research assignment for our Alaska NSF Chautauqua course has been posted. Your task is to find a wound-inducible plant gene, learn something about it, and post a description in the comment section. We've already had one excellent answer, but I know there are at least 54 wound- ... Read more
An introduction to our Alaskan NSF Chautauqua course and a pre-course assignment. I don't know how well this will work, but I thought it might be interesting this year to experiment with blogging about our course and sharing some of our experiences with the rest of the world. Here's your chance readers, if you'd like to do some of the assignments, you are very welcome to follow along and give it a try.


I'm not likely to get all the assignments or course info posted on-line, but since we have some constraints with photocopying, we also ... Read more

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