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Lion Takes on Role of Educator With Launch Of Bioinformatics Training Product

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With the recent release of its Web-Based Training (WBT) Bioinformatics learning management system, Lion Bioscience hopes not only to expand its product line, but meet the growing need for trained bioinformatics practitioners in the process.

“Many life science companies and academic institutions find it difficult to train their employees and students in the cutting-edge usage of tools and the latest data,” said Alrik Koppenhofer, project manager at Lion. “From Lion’s point of view, this WBT training is logically the next step toward becoming a complete solution provider.”

Koppenhofer said Lion staffers who are experts on the themes covered in the system contributed most of the content.

WBT Bioinformatics can be fully integrated into an organization’s intranet and consists of six different application and software themes: searching life science databases; pairwise sequence comparison and homology searches; multiple sequence alignment, motifs, and advanced homology searches; secondary and tertiary structure; expression profiling; and comparative genomics.

The system also offers reference material, including an embedded glossary of over 700 relevant terms, a database of over 100 key life science databases, and a list of over 40 publicly available software tools. The reference materials will be updated every six months as new releases come on line. Each new release will update existing material and also add a new theme to the six currently offered. New themes in the works include metabolic pathways and SNP analysis.

Lion partnered with Bit Media, a subsidiary of Siemens, to incorporate Bit Media’s Sitos learning management system into the platform and to transform the content into XML-based themes and modules.

The platform can be customized to fit into a company’s existing learning system or developed as a stand-alone training solution. Koppenhofer said that Lion’s tools are recommended “in order to receive the full training and maximum value” of the system, but are not required.

The course was designed to meet the needs of a range of life science professionals with varying degrees of expertise. Lion ran a usability study to gauge the usefulness of the system before its launch. Of the 11 test subjects, who ranged from lab technicians to professors of bioinformatics, 90 percent rated the content as excellent, Koppenhofer said. The average time to complete the course was 25-30 hours.

WBT Bioinformatics is now commercially available to customers and is also being deployed for Lion’s internal training purposes. Bayer is the first customer to use WBT Bioinformatics for its internal education and training.

Koppenhofer said the platform should also be of interest to academic institutions — not as a replacement for current educational resources, he noted, but as an effective way to demonstrate how academic research techniques can be applied to the commercial discovery process.

“We see this product as the interface between the academic world and the life science industry,” Koppenhofer said.

— BT

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