Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

ISCB Education Committee Seeks Input on
Identifying a Consensus Bioinformatics Curriculum

International Society for Computational Biology
A Report of the Curriculum Task Force of the ISCB Education Committee

Draft approved by the Curriculum Task Force of the ISCB Education Committee on March 1, 2012

Open for comment from the ISCB membership
Comment period closes March 30, 2012

The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) is dedicated to advancing human knowledge at the intersection of computation and life sciences. The ISCB Education Committee (EduComm) promotes worldwide education and training in computational biology and bioinformatics and serves as a resource and advisor to organizations interested in developing educational programs.  We hereby present (draft) guidelines on the important issue of curriculum for computational biology and bioinformatics.

The topic of curricula for bioinformatics programs has long been of interest to ISCB and EduComm. Dr. Russ Altman, a founding board member of ISCB and past-president, has been associated with one of the first degree programs (at Stanford University) and wrote an article on the topic of curriculum. Dr. Shoba Ranganathan, as chair of EduComm a decade ago, began organizing a yearly Workshop on Education in Bioinformatics (WEB) at ISMB (Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology) meetings that generated exchange of information and many productive discussions. Curriculum development was one aspect of bioinformatics education covered in these sessions.

 The field of bioinformatics has grown in the past decade. There are many such degree granting programs around the world at the bachelors’, masters’, and Ph.D. levels. This article provides a status report of the EduComm’s ongoing endeavor to provide a set of curricular guidelines for bioinformatics education at all levels.  The Curriculum Task Force of the EduComm conducted a survey in spring of 2011.  Analysis of the survey produced an initial set of recommendations in the form of a first draft of a curriculum.  The EduComm will continue to refine its results. Individuals who are interested in contributing to this initiative are encouraged to contact the Chairs of the ISCB EduComm.

The results of our survey were presented at the Third RECOMB Satellite Conference on Bioinformatics Education (RECOMB-BE), held in Vienna, Austria in July 2011.  The purposes of this article are to further disseminate the survey results and to solicit participation in the initiative.  The survey questions and responses are presented, the draft curriculum is defined, and the next steps of the EduComm Curriculum Task Force are outlined.