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A programming course in bioinformatics for computer and information science students.

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Section on Medical Informatics, SUMC, Stanford, CA 94305-5479, USA.


We have created a course entitled "Representations and Algorithms for Computational Molecular Biology" with three specific goals in mind. First, we want to provide a technical introduction for computer science and medical information science students to the challenges of computing with molecular biology data, particularly the advantages of having easy access to real-world data sets. Second, we want to equip the students with the skills required of productive research assistants in molecular biology computing research projects. Finally, we want to provide a showcase for local investigators to describe their work in the context of a course that provide adequate background information. In order to achieve these goals, we have created a programming course, in which three major projects and six smaller assignments are assigned during the quarter. We stress fundamental representations and algorithms during the first part of the course in lectures given by the core faculty, and then have more focused lectures in which faculty research interests are highlighted. The course stressed issues of structural molecular biology, in order to better motivate the critical issues in sequence analysis. The culmination of the course was a challenge to the students to use a version of protein threading to predict which members of a set of unknown sequences were globins. The course was well received, and has been made a core requirement in the Medical Information Sciences program.

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