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Grant funding to aid new bioinformatics courses, laboratory

Published: 11/03/15 8:18AM
By: bradleyc

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Fort Valley State University's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology is on the forefront of emerging technology with the help of a recent 1890 Capacity Building Grant for $149,999.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded Dr. Ramana Gosukonda, a FVSU associate professor of agricultural sciences, and FVSU agricultural research scientists Dr. Eugene Amoah and Dr. Ajit Mahapatra, the Curriculum and Infrastructure Development for Enhancing Student's Experiential Learning in Bioinformatics Grant. The grant funds would support the creation of bioinformatics courses and a bioinformatics laboratory where students can receive hands-on training.

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary science that involves biology and computer science to help understand and organize information in disciplines such as genetics and genomics. Gosukonda, who serves as project director of this grant said bioinformatics is important because students learn the skills needed for careers in the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology industry and natural resources industries. Currently there are two graduate courses and one undergraduate course taught in bioinformatics at FVSU.

"With bioinformatics skills, students can write programs for biology research, design drugs or learn methods for growing better crops," Gosukonda said. He said the opportunities are endless and students with strong skills in biology or computer science are great candidates for the courses.

"Generally students may be very good in biology but lack computational skills. They may be strong in computer science and lack a biology background. My goal here is to bring them together so students can benefit from this new field and be marketable for industry jobs or help them develop the skills for solving biological problems and understanding human diseases," Gosukonda said.

Dr. Govind Kannan, dean of FVSU's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology is gratified of the progress taking place in the College. "I congratulate Dr. Gosukonda and the co-principal investigators on this achievement. This grant comes at a time when we are trying to strengthen our undergraduate and graduate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curricula. I am sure infusing bioinformatics in our biotechnology syllabi will add great value to the programs," Kannan said.

The Capacity Building Grants Program is a federally funded competitive grants program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The grants aid educational curriculums, research and support outreach programs for 1890 land grant institutions.

For more information about the College of Agriculture and its programs visit ag.fvsu.edu.