Introduction to

(BSC 4434/BSC 5459)

Fall 2006

Friday mornings: 8-10:45 am, Bldg. 32, Room 519

Instructor: Dr. Melanie A. Sutton
Phone: (850) 474-2650
Office Hours:
Where: Bldg. 58, Rm. 005 (main campus)
When: online or via appointment

Current Catalog Description:

A molecular renaissance in biology has produced a wealth of sequence and three-dimensional structure databases. "Mining" of these data with various computational methods to obtain useful information is an emerging interdisciplinary area of study. Students will review structure, function and evolution of proteins and nucleic acids as well as the latest computational methods for retrieval and interpretation of this bioinformation. Offered concurrently with BSC 5459; graduate students will be assigned additional work. Permission is required.
Course Overview:

In order to keep pace with recent developments in genomics and proteomics, biology must develop and teach new tools so our students will have the skills to enter this burgeoning job market. Central to these new technologies is bioinformatics, a field that did not exist 10 years ago. No one predicted the collision of two fundamental technologies: molecular biology and small fast computers. Biology is now publishing more than 50,000 pages of literature per day. Over 125,000 different genomic sequences have been submitted to the North American GenBank (the world wide repository of genetic sequence information database) IN A SINGLE DAY. 10 years ago there were only two bacteria fully sequenced. Now there are 820 fully sequenced life forms, including 152 eukaryotes (one of which is Homo sapiens), 109 bacteria and more than 550 viruses. We now have full sequences for the mouse, the fruit fly and brewers yeast. Biologists are literally in danger of drowning in their own success.

This absolutely necessitates the creation of new tools that allow us to move through all this information and make some sense of it. This requires very fast computers, very clever programming and well educated operators. The field is now known as bioinformatics, and some universities now have whole Bioinformatics Departments offering Ph.D. programs in this area. It has become one of the most sought after degrees by the pharmaceutical industry where all molecular research groups now include one bioinformaticist. Most NIH and NSF grants to universities dealing with sequence information have a similar bias.

At UWF, this course is based on a hands-on approach that I hope will develop your interests in scientific discovery. For Spring 2006, the course is also structured to involve you in meaningful ways with practical (and exciting) aspects of real research in imaging methods in bioinformatics. Upon completion of this course, you should acquire the following skills:

o Course Policies
o Weekly Course Outline
o Texts - Prerequisite Courses
o Locations of Computer Labs - How to log in

o Opportunities for Extra Credit
o Student Websites
o Outreach to PK-12

o University o Biology Department o UWF Image Analysis/Robotics Lab o World Computer Vision Home Page


CREDIT / ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This course was inspired in part by the Global Change Project at the University of Michigan. In addition, the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of West Florida provided a Curriculum Development Grant in 2000 to support Dr. Sutton's research into interdisciplinary research.

It is hoped that the success of this course will lead to other interdisciplinary courses at UWF, perhaps in areas such as Biomedical Engineering and Global Change.

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Melanie A. Sutton, Ph.D. ( All rights reserved.
University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL 32514