PH universities raise level of bioinformatics skills

Delegats from the Cagayan State University, the Nueva Vizcaya State University, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Visayas State University were sent to Thailand for a training program on practical bioinformatics skills for plant and animal whole genome sequencing data.

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Director Glenn Gregorio said the participation of the delegates in the training was made possible through the support of the center's Leveling-Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFAR) grant.

In addition to the four project-sponsored delegates, two additional UPLB representatives were present, courtesy of the SEARCA Faculty Mobility Grants. In total, 18 participants from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand attended the international training.

The training was organized by the Center for Agricultural Biotechnology (CAB) at Kasetsart University (CAB-KU) in Thailand last month at KU's Kamphaeng Saen campus. It was outlined by CAB-KU, encompassing the entire bioinformatics workflow from data acquisition to its application in plant and animal breeding, as well as conservation research.

Gregorio said the training offered a comprehensive curriculum that combined lectures with hands-on activities and was designed as a beginner's course that catered specifically to biologists with limited experience in using command-line software but with an interest in genomic analysis.

He said the LevelUPHEI AFAR project is funded by the Philippine Commission on Higher Education under its International Continuing Professional Education grant program.

SEARCA also announced that the center, the University Consortium and KU plan to conduct three more training programs in 2023.

Gregorio said these programs include the UC Summer School, which will focus on the sustainability of agricultural systems in challenging environments, as well as specialized courses on aquatic animal nutrition and feed manufacturing.

He also noted that another iteration of the training on practical bioinformatics skills will be offered.

Gregorio said these activities will be open to universities affiliated with the State Universities and Colleges-Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines or SUC-ACAP.