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University at Buffalo Lands $1.2M to Launch Genomics Training for Regional High Schools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The University at Buffalo has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to launch a genetics and genomics education program in regional high schools aimed at preparing young people for jobs in the life sciences.

UB said on Monday it will use the NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) to establish the Western New York Genetics in Research and Health Care Partnership, which will work with rural and urban high schools in 14 counties in and around Buffalo and Rochester.

The five-year SEPA grant will support training workshops for around 20 teachers per year, and around 500 high school students will learn about computer-based tools for genomic analysis, said Michael Cain, UB 's VP for health sciences and dean of the university's medical school.

Cain said the program will "provide hundreds of high school students with the skills they need to pursue a career in life sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where the UB medical school will be located in just a few years."

"An exciting aspect of this program is that it focuses on the clinical and translational applications of genomics," said UB Research Assistant Professor Stephen Koury, who will lead the program. "Students will learn to analyze genes that have clinical significance in human microbial pathogens, such as those that are antibiotic resistant or especially virulent infectious diseases."

Teachers at participating high schools will receive intensive training and technical support, and some of them will create a self-sustaining network of teachers who can share their expertise in teaching genomics and basic bioinformatics.

"The teachers will be learning about gene annotation, lesson plan development, and how to work with the National Center for Biotechnology Information and to use a range of new algorithmic programs to analyze gene and protein sequences," added Koury.

UB said the partnership will leverage some aspects of a nearly $50 million investment from New York State in genomic medicine initiatives in the Buffalo-Niagara corridor that was funded under the Buffalo Billion program.

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