Cathy Key North Carolina Central Univ

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Genomics at North Carolina Central University

Course Overview

BIOL3100 Geneticsat NCCU is divided into 4 main topics: classical genetics (25%), molecular genetics (40%), population genetics (10%) and genomics (25% course).

The course begins with a review of mitosis in the context of cancer and meiosis in the context of nondisjunction (Turner's and Klinefelter's Syndromes) and moves into Mendelian Genetics and modifications to Mendel's findings.  Pedigree charts and twin studies follow and then the course takes a molecular track.  During the molecular genetics portion of the class, students review the basics of DNA structure, transcription, and translation and special focus is place on the importance of properly splicing pre-mRNA transcripts using a case study I created that uses beta-thalassemia and RNA-based gene therapy (  We then move into Genomics focusing on the Human Genome Project and the Drosophila melanogaster annotation project. 

BIOL4400 Introduction to Researchis a non-didactic semester long course.  Students can elect to take 1-3 credit hours.  Three credit hours in my lab means 15 hours of work per week.  This work can be making reagents for the lab, participating in wet-lab research (Drosophila crosses or molecular techniques), or conducting genomic annotation research.


Genomics was introduced into Genetics at NCCU in the 2009-2010 academic year.  Individual students were assigned genes in Fall 2009 in two course, one of which was Genetics.  This did not work well, because we had only Drosophila mojavensis contigs and I was too new to it all.  Spring 2010 worked much better.  I reused some of the contigs I claimed in Fall 2009 and student groups of 3-4 were used. Two of the six groups found one gene and used Gene Model Checker.  However, they used the two T.A.'s out-of-class hours in order to accomplish this much. 

In the BIOL4400 Introduction to Research course, a group of four students successfully annotated two Drosophila mojavensis contigs, presented a poster at the College of Science and Technology's Undergraduate Research Day Spring 2010.  The contigs were submitted to GEP.

Lessons Learned and Future Plans

1.) Students need more time. 

2.) I need to sell Genomics.  

The Genomics section of the text I use (Genetics: A Conceptual Approach by Benjamin Pierce) is execellent.  I now have a powerpoint based on the text figures and a few personel touches to enlist students in the genomics cause.  Also, I find that it is helpful to use a weather forecast analogy when explaining the gene prediction models.  Channel 4 may call for snow in some locations, Channel 11 may call for snow in slightly different locations on the map,  which one is right?  Only way to know is to see for yourself.  


For the 2010-2011 year, I am aiming to give students 20-24 hrs of class time to work on annotation projects.  I plan to incorporate more GEP materials (simple intro to BLAST was very good).

Syllabus for