UAEU Students Learn About Unlocking the Secrets of DNA at the First Bioinformatics Workshop


The Biology Department at United Arab Emirates University organized the first Bioinformatics workshop led by Dr. Ranjit Vijayan, Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics, Department of Biology and Dr. Nazar Zaki, Associate Professor of Intelligent Systems, College of IT. The workshop was designed to equip students with skills far beyond the realm of traditional biology laboratories. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that brings together concepts from computer science, mathematics and statistics to study problems in biology.
Dr. Khaled Amiri, Chairman of the Department of Biology welcomed the students and spoke about how the field of bioinformatics has evolved from being accessible to a privileged few during his days as a graduate student to its current form where it is accessible to everyone.
“The amount of biological data that is available to scientists is astounding. The best part is that almost all of it is completely free. These information-rich resources are spread across a diverse and interlinked set of databases and tools that are available online at the click of a button. Vast repositories hold information about the genome of several organisms and the thousands of proteins they encode. Everyday, scientists use these resources in an attempt to find solutions to devastating genetic disorders,” said Dr. Amiri.
Unlocking the secrets of DNA - the molecule of life - requires equipping students with bioinformatics skills.  Bioinformatics is a new field in the UAE.
 An introductory one-day workshop was organized for the students of UAEU to increase the awareness of what can be achieved using bioinformatics. Students explored the sequence, structure and function of DNA and proteins that are available in bioinformatics databases. Equipped with this, they investigated how mutations can lead to a range of disorders including sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, thalassemia and cancer, to name a few.
The event was organized by the Biology Club. Following the success of the first event, further workshops are being planned to cover more topics and to include schools and universities from across the UAE.

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