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Enhancing Bioinformatics and Genomics Courses: Building Capacity and Skills via Lab Meeting Activities


Reading, writing, publishing, and publicly presenting scientific works are vital for a young researcher's profile building and career development. Generally, the traditional educational curricula do not offer training possibilities to learn and practice how to prepare, write, and present scientific works. These are rather a part of lab meeting activities in research groups. The lack of such training is more critical in some developing countries because this adds to the rare opportunities to discuss and become involved in the exchanges on state of the art scientific literature. Here the authors relate their experience in introducing a weekly 1-day lab meeting in the framework of two previously organized 3-month courses on "Bioinformatics and Genome Analyses". The main activities which are developed during these lab meetings include scientific literature follow up as well as preparing and presenting oral and written scientific reviews. These activities prove to be useful for a student's self-confidence building, for enhancing their active participation during the lectures and practical sessions, as well as for the positive impact on running the whole course program. Incorporation of such lab meeting activities in the course program significantly improves the capacity building of the participants, their analytical and critical reading of scientific literature, as well as communication skills. In this work it is shown how to proceed with the different steps involved in the implementation of lab meeting activities, and to recommend their regular institution in similar courses. Lab meetings are at the heart of scientific life because they provide an exceptional environment for developing skills in team work, networking, exchange on research advances and for enhancing self-confidence and career-building by offering young researchers opportunities to learn how to 1) prepare and present personal research findings ; 2) select and discuss challenging papers ; 3) develop and hone analytical skills; 4) practice communication skills. We adapted this concept by incorporating a weekly 1-day lab meeting in the organization of two 3-month "Bioinformat-ics and Genome Analyses" courses [1] that we organized at the Institut Pasteur Tu-nis, Tunisia. The course was intended for about twenty selected young Ph.D. students and researchers with backgrounds in Biology , Mathematics, Statistics or Computer Science. It was focused on topics related to bioinformatics, comparative genomics, metagenomics, genome variant analyses and programming in a Unix environment. In order to foster the participants' involvement in the lab meeting activities, each participant had to prepare a synthetic review based on some selected bib-liographic resources. This "bibliographic project" constituted a significant component of the course outcome, and had to be formally presented at the end of the course. For that purpose, a large number of quality published papers encompassing most of the course topics were specifically collected and passed to the participants. These documents helped the participants to follow the course program and to select adequate papers for their respective projects. Central activities during lab meetings included work toward preparation of the different projects, follow-up of recent scientific literature, critical reading of papers, review preparation, and presentation, as well as idea-sharing through discussion. Figure 1 shows the steps that we followed in the development of activities. Four main operational objectives constituted the backbone of the procedure implementing these activities 1) Training on reading scientific literature; 2) Preparation of oral presentation and synthetic reviews; 3) Organizing and leading lab meetings; 4) Final review presentation and evaluation. In the following we develop the content of these activities and introduce their implementation in the context of the course program.
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pasteur-02948908 , version 1 (28-09-2020)


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Abdellatif Boudabous, Fredj Tekaia. Enhancing Bioinformatics and Genomics Courses: Building Capacity and Skills via Lab Meeting Activities: Fostering a Culture of Critical Capacities to Read, Write, Communicate and Engage in Rigorous Scientific Exchanges. 2020. ⟨pasteur-02948908⟩


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