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Workshop trains teachers in genetics research

Published July 17, 2014

Thirty-one high school teachers from area school districts received the classroom tools needed to teach their students the rich history, complexity and excitement of the world of genetics and genomics during a recent workshop held at UB.

Participants trained with scientists from the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as part of a three-year effort funded by the National Science Foundation.

The program, held daily July 7-11 in Cary Hall on the South Campus, was led by Stephen Koury, research assistant professor in the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

The current generation of high school students will come of age in an era in which personal genetic information is increasingly used in health care. So it is of vital importance that they understand the genetic concepts necessary to make informed medical decisions, workshop organizers say. Students also need this information to confront personal, social and ethical challenges that lie ahead in this area, and consider further education in the field.

“The teachers worked with computer modules and there was a lot of teacher-faculty interaction,” Koury says. “They learned about gene annotation, lesson plan development and how to work with the NCBI — the National Center for Biotechnology Information — to use a range of new algorithmic programs to sequence genes, a process that was once very time consuming, and much more.”