Supporting STEM Education with Bioinformatics Program

High-school bioinformatics program led by Dr. Michael Edwards

Dr. Michael Edwards teaching bioinformatics mini course at High School at the Green Valley Ranch Denver School of Science and Technology.

According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17 percent, while others are growing at 9.8 percent. It has been estimated that by 2020, the U.S. will demand 123 million highly skilled workers, but there will only be 50 million qualified people to fill these roles.

As part of the life science community, we are taking an active role in supporting STEM programs.  STEM-focused educational programs are one of the primary ways we can pique the interest of young people who will be the researchers and engineers of tomorrow.

We recently supported a high-school bioinformatics program led by Dr. Michael Edwards, an IPA customer and power user. Dr. Edwards is a bioinformatics expert and assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Denver.

The course, which ran for 2.5 weeks and included 75, 11th-grade students from the Green Valley Ranch Denver School of Science and Technology, was developed by Dr. Edwards with the help of science teachers, Jeremy Wickenheiser and David Scudder, at the school. As part of their hands-on unit, they used top-of-the-line bioinformatics software, including Ingenuity IPA, to analyze real scientific datasets. At the end of the session, they presented their findings to the group.

“To my knowledge, we are the first school in the nation to offer this level of instruction in bioinformatics, at this stage of education, to this many kids,” said Edwards, commenting on this innovative program.

Dr. Edwards hopes to continue providing this program to high school students in the Denver area and drawing them into a rewarding profession of research and discovery in the life sciences.

Pictures from this course can be found on Dr. Micheal Edwards’s facebook page.