Teaching bioinformatics and neuroinformatics by using free web-based tools

CBE Life Sci Educ. 2010 Summer;9(2):98-107. doi: 10.1187/cbe.09-11-0079.


This completely computer-based module's purpose is to introduce students to bioinformatics resources. We present an easy-to-adopt module that weaves together several important bioinformatic tools so students can grasp how these tools are used in answering research questions. Students integrate information gathered from websites dealing with anatomy (Mouse Brain Library), quantitative trait locus analysis (WebQTL from GeneNetwork), bioinformatics and gene expression analyses (University of California, Santa Cruz Genome Browser, National Center for Biotechnology Information's Entrez Gene, and the Allen Brain Atlas), and information resources (PubMed). Instructors can use these various websites in concert to teach genetics from the phenotypic level to the molecular level, aspects of neuroanatomy and histology, statistics, quantitative trait locus analysis, and molecular biology (including in situ hybridization and microarray analysis), and to introduce bioinformatic resources. Students use these resources to discover 1) the region(s) of chromosome(s) influencing the phenotypic trait, 2) a list of candidate genes-narrowed by expression data, 3) the in situ pattern of a given gene in the region of interest, 4) the nucleotide sequence of the candidate gene, and 5) articles describing the gene. Teaching materials such as a detailed student/instructor's manual, PowerPoints, sample exams, and links to free Web resources can be found at http://mdcune.psych.ucla.edu/modules/bioinformatics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology / education*
  • Genetics
  • Internet* / instrumentation
  • Mice
  • Neurosciences / education*
  • Phenotype
  • Public Sector*
  • Research
  • Students
  • Teaching / methods*