Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - INFONOMIC (To spread Bioinformatic knowledge applied to functional genomic)

In 2004, the European Union funded a transfer of technology (TOK) program at the University of Camerino. The objective of this project was to bring to the university of Camerino the essential bioinformatic knowledge to perform functional genomic research. The implementation of the project was relatively simple since it involved only three researchers and two institutions with varying degrees of experience and expertise.

The TOK project brought significant advantages to the University of Camerino. The work performed permitted the establishment of a group of experts in the analysis of genomic data at the department of experimental medicine and public health. It also fostered the formation of academic collaborations with several research teams in Europe and elsewhere, and strengthened existing ones. Moreover, in the spirit of the TOK program, the bioinformatic specialists formed through this project were invited to teach various under-graduate and graduate classes for the university of Camerino faculty of pharmacy and that of science and technology.

At the beginning of the project, an experienced researcher from the university of Camerino was seconded at the Neurotec department of the Karoliska institute in Sweden, in the laboratory of Markus Heilig where, for one year, he received training in microarray analysis and bioinformatics, learning the basics of microarray technique and the bioinformatic approaches to analysing microarray data. Upon completion of the year's training, and return to his host institution, he began to organise a computational analysis unit devoted to the analysis and management of microarray data. In addition, he actively contributed to the organisation of other activities related to the TOK project.

During this TOK project, two bioinformatic specialists were recruited through an international call. The project researcher and bioinformatic specialists devoted great attention to working with the laboratory personnel (researchers, PhD and graduate students) to develop and refine their skills in analysis of genomic data. The primary objective was to increase the knowledge and preparation of the laboratory members, especially knowledge about how bioinformatics can be applied to increase the quality and speed of research related to microarrays. In this context, a framework was developed for the analysis of microarray data. In addition, the recruited bioinformatic specialists supported other researchers in analysis of experimental data.

Of particular note among the various initiatives of this project was the organisation of two summer school programs in 'microarray technology and bioinformatics' in 2005 and 2006. Teachers included personnel recruited under this TOK project as well as leading scientists with recognised reputations in the field of functional genomics analysis invited from different countries, including Gary Hardiman from University of California, San Diego (United States), Natalie Thorne from Cambridge university (United Kingdom), and Wolfgang Sommer from National institute of health (United States). The courses were attended by many students from Italy and several other European nations. Another initiative was the organisation of one-day conferences, organised in Camerino in 2004 (NETTAB, Network tools and applications in biology) and 2007 (microarray technology - advances, applications, future prospects) to present the major technological advancements in the field of microarray technologies, both of which had over 100 registrants. In addition, as part of this TOK, the 2004 NETTAB conference included a workshop on 'Theory and practice in gene-array technologies'.

In summary, this TOK project has brought to the University of Camerino the foundational knowledge and technical bioinformatic know-how for analysing genomic data and has encouraged researchers of our institution to undertake new projects in the field of functional genomics. The institution served as a catalyst for promoting this kind of research in several other Italian and European academic institutions and SMEs, using the occasions of workshops and conferences held in Camerino to establish new synergisms.

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