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HHMI To Support Phage Genomics Undergrad Courses at 12 Universities

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Undergraduate students at a dozen US universities will get firsthand experience studying the genomes of bacteriophages under a new program designed and supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The Phage Genomics Research Initiative course, which will begin next fall, will enable biology students to isolate bacterial viruses from the field, prepare the viral DNA for sequencing, and annotate and compare the sequenced genome to available data.
The PGRI program is the first initiative under HHMI’s new Science Education Alliance program, which aims to develop a national network of scientists and educators “who work collaboratively to develop and distribute new materials and methods to the education community.”
HHMI said it is committing a total of $4 million over the first four years of the SEA program.  
The PGRI program will build on a pilot phage genomics course currently offered at the University of Pittsburgh. It includes three years of HHMI support including faculty training, supplies of reagents, computing support, and DNA sequencing.
After three years of support, the institutions must provide their own funding for reagents, sequencing and computing costs, HHMI said. 
HHMI plans to add twelve more PGRI programs in 2009 and another dozen in 2010, bringing the total number of institutions involved in the initiative to 36. Around 720 students are expected to benefit from the program.
The twelve universities HHMI will support in the first phase of the PGRI program include: Carnegie Mellon University; The College of William and Mary; Hope College Holland; James Madison University; Oregon State University; Spelman College; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Santa Cruz; University of Louisiana at Monroe; University of Mary Washington; University of Maryland-Baltimore County; and Washington University.

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