Rocket Science or Basic Science? A Consortium of Teachers Makes Genomic Methods Accessible
The new field of functional genomics is transforming many areas of biology but the undergraduate curriculum has not been able to incorporate this transformation. Undergraduates need to understand this new field where gene expression levels of every gene in a genome is studied simultaneously. Unfortunately, functional genomic methods are expensive and unfamiliar to faculty who spend most of their time teaching. In December1999, the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT) was created to facilitate the introduction of genomic methods into the undergraduate curriculum in a cost-effective manner. GCAT is a non-profit, educational consortium comprised of faculty who teach undergraduates <bio.davidson.edu/GCAT>. GCAT will use collective purchasing power, core facilities, and an accumulation of experience to enable students at any institution to conduct experiments with genomic tools. There are two primary conditions for participation in GCAT: 1) members will use the DNA microarrays to conduct experiments with undergraduate students only and 2) all data and interpretations will be public domain and available via the internet. In September of 2000, the first cohort of GCAT members (23 faculty from the US and Canada) obtained 135 yeast DNA microarrays (provided by Dr. Pat Brown; Stanford University) which consist of every open reading frame from the budding yeast S. cerevisiae. Genesphere has developed a new method for producing probes and produced smaller kit sizes at a reduced price for GCAT members. Several microarray manufacturers agreed to read the GCAT microarrays for the first year. The inaugural experiments were conducted during the fall semester of 2000 and results will be presented. During the breakout session, participants will discuss future participation in GCAT and long-term plans. The discussion can be continued at the poster session.
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