Category Archives: Technology

Striking while the data is hot with AnVIL: Manipulating bioinformatics data with a great new opportunity for students and teachers

Thrilled to be starting work with the AnVIL and the curriculum development team to bring the power of this computational genomics research system to students and teachers all across the country! Through Johns Hopkins University and NIH’s genome research branch (NHGRI), college faculty from around the country are coming together to design curriculum and classroom lab exercises to teach students how to use this powerful data resource.

What would you like to do with genetic data? What would you like to investigate? Send in your questions or project suggestions for consideration!

What is AnVIL?

The task of turning the masses of generated biology healthcare data into useful information has been a problem since the advent of genetic sequence data production. With exponential increase in genomic data produced over the last 10 years, researchers are swimming in data. Without a centralized system for storing data generated in labs, datasets were not freely comparable because of silo-like storage. AnVIL, a data storage project sponsored by the NIH’s NHGRI uses Google cloud storage to serve anyone interested in computational genomics research.

This means students, teachers, and anyone curious who has internet access large data sets and run analytic programs. The promise of the internet breaking down barriers to information is finally being realized for genetics data.

Free & Reduced Price High Speed Internet

To be certain that low income students can access high-bandwidth internet, Comcast is offering 60 days of free internet. Low ~$10/month price after that, with no contract. Expect 1 week shipping time and evidence of low-income status is required.

Also, college will keep one open computer lab on each campus open with regular deep cleanings.

Check out the website below for additional details:

Beyond DIY 3D prints

Print the parts for a $100 drone!

Existing .stl files suitable for 3D printing (via the TILT lab) can be found at sites such as Experiment with a variety of pre-made items from handy kitchen items to plastic wallets. The science section features air-powered balloons, handy ionic bond models,  a self-starting siphon, and the drone aircraft shown above.

Contribute to cancer research…with your computer!

Unlocking the DNA sequence was celebrated in the early 2000s as providing the key to curing disease. Overlooked is the relative lack of information about the structure of folded proteins. Most of the known protein structures studied are bacterial; of all the known protein structures, only 25% are human (2017 data). The proteins in our bodies are responsible for everything from sending signals in autoimmune disease to driving the uncontrolled growth in cancer. Knowing the structure of proteins allows researchers to design and build drugs that impair their action.

You can contribute to unlocking the structure of proteins with your desktop/laptop computer and internet connection. Through the Folding@Home research project run by a Stanford professor, you can load a free program onto your computer that runs in the background. Using your computer’s processing power, folding simulations are run and the data you generate contributes to research. The program runs mathematical calculations to determine how the proteins will fold in the most energetically favorable shape. By unlocking the computer power of computers all over the world, protein structures can be determined and used by researchers to better understand disease.