I was lucky enough to help set up and plan a workshop covering genomics, metagenomics, proteomics and bioinformatics at the University of the West Indies campus in St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago on February 19th and 20th. The workshop was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through the Genomic Center for Infectious Diseases cooperative agreement. UWI was a co-sponsor and a gracious host. Participants included 60 individuals from Trinidad, England, Guyana and Barbados. On-line participants were from all over the world including Gambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, USA, and the Caribbean.
The team of presenters from the JCVI included Karen Nelson, Bill Nierman, Andrey Tovchigrechko, Rembert Pieper, and Shibu Yooseph. Presenters from UWI included Drs. Christine Carrington and Adesh Ramsubhag.
Karen opened the workshop with a welcome message and overview. She has been a driving force behind the growing relationship between UWI and JCVI. Bill delivered very interesting talks on the history of research on the human microbiome and currently emerging infectious diseases. Rembert handled a presentation and tutorial on proteomic analysis strategies, which was a big hit. If time was not a factor, the question and answer period could have lasted longer than his talk. Finally, Andrey and Shibu presented and gave lessons on statistics, UNIX, and bioinformatics analyses for genomics, metagenomics, and microbiome work.
Dr. Carrington’s presentation on infectious diseases in Trinidad focused on Dengue Fever and Chickungunya, and dovetailed quite nicely with Bill’s presentation on emerging infectious diseases.
Dr. Ramsubhag described the results of his work examining the bacterial diversity of the Nariva Swamp in Trinidad, which uncovered many unique bacterial strains. Perhaps the most important portion of his talk described how important this type of workshop/collaboration is for UWI. Lessons from subject matter experts are invaluable to the undergraduate, graduate and faculty members that attended the workshop as students. In addition, Dr. Ramsuhbag described how a relationship that started through a workshop has given UWI access to cutting edge technologies and data analysis strategies that would be otherwise unavailable without the collaboration with the JCVI.
The students that attended the workshop were all very enthusiastic and eager to learn. They seemingly hung on every word from the presenters, and paid very close attention during the presentations and hands on informatics sessions. A few attendees even asked us to make the lunch break shorter so that the workshop time could be lengthened…but we needed that time to break down the video equipment, haul it to another building and set it up for the afternoon classes. It was a pleasure to help make this learning experience possible for the workshop students!
The workshop was the second time that staff from the JCVI have presented at the St. Augustine Campus of UWI. Tim Stockwell held an 8 hour workshop focused on viruses in 2013. We look forward to working together in the future.
Special thanks to Tim Stayeas for handling all of the technology associated with on-line broadcasts of the meeting.
Watch all four training sessions below:
Day 1, AM Session
Day 1, PM Session
Day 2, AM Session
Day 2, PM Session