UP PGC empowers educators to teach DNA sequencing & other molecular biology techniques

| Written by Dexter A. Lopez

Select faculty members from MMSU were hosted at the UP PGC and completed a three-day hands-on training workshop on various molecular biology laboratory techniques leading to whole genome sequencing of their bacterial samples from November 8-10, 2023, at the DNA Sequencing Core Facility, PGC, UP Diliman. Photo by Kris Punayan, UP PGC.

 

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the efforts made by the University of the Philippines (UP) to develop expertise in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and Genomics were integral in the country’s national genomic surveillance efforts. Today, as the country continues to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, that expertise has been further utilized to help capacitate state universities and colleges (SUCs) and higher education institutions (HEIs) in performing whole genome sequencing in their life science laboratory classes.

To dispel the notion that DNA sequencing is difficult, the UP Philippine Genome Center (PGC) launched last year a pilot project aimed at building the capacities of local educators. Titled “Whole Genome Sequencing @ Your Fingertips,” the initiative sought to enhance the expertise of teachers of molecular biology, through disseminating NGS and other techniques.

With strong support from SUCs and HEIs in Luzon, this project is strategically designed for national replication. Plans are in motion to bring the program to educators across the country, ensuring widespread access to cutting-edge molecular biology education. As the PGC pioneers a new era in molecular biology education, “Whole Genome Sequencing @ Your Fingertips” stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and educational empowerment.

 

The trainers of ‘Whole Genome Sequencing @ Your Fingertips’ explained and demonstrated the proper use of the MiSeq sequencer to MMSU faculty members. Photo by Dexter Lopez, UP PGC.

 

Pilot project

 

Eight faculty members from Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) took the pioneering step by participating in a three-day workshop from November 8 to10, 2023, hosted at the DNA Sequencing Core Facility, PGC, UP Diliman.

The workshop tackled various molecular biology techniques from DNA extraction to genomic library preparation and quality control. Guided by expert trainers, participants also explored the complexities of whole-genome sequencing using the PGC’s own Illumina’s MiSeq next-generation sequencing instrument, with lectures on its Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ (ONTs) long read sequencing also included.

Professors from UP Diliman’s National Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology (UPD-NIMBB) shared their expertise through a series of lectures that aimed not only to equip educators with practical skills but also to inspire them to enhance life sciences courses in their institutions. This visionary project promises to catalyze a transformative shift in our nation’s college curricula, ultimately reshaping the entire educational landscape.

 

MMSU faculty members and the ‘Whole Genome Sequencing @ Your Fingertips’ team exchanged tokens of appreciation, symbolizing the success of their fruitful collaboration. Supplied photo from the UP PGC.

 

This PGC initiative is in line with UP’s mandates to be a national leader in setting academic standards and fostering innovation in teaching, research, and faculty development. It aims to guide tertiary education towards a future where molecular biology is accessible to all, thus creating a ripple effect in various sectors. The continuous advancements in genomics and other -omics technologies hold the key to precision health, agricultural advancement, biodiversity conservation, and revolutionary molecular diagnostics.


Dexter A. Lopez is a Junior Extension Associate at the UP Philippine Genome Center.