Q&A Surrounding the Molecular Sciences Made Personal Webcast

         March 26, 2015

This week, Dr. Jeffery Moore presented a webcast on the Molecular Sciences Made Personal. The webcast delved into Dr. Moore’s attempts to transform how they teach chemistry at the University of Illinois and demonstrated how he uses VarSeq with his students to examine exome data.

The following are the questions asked by the attendees. Please feel free to reach out to us at info@goldenhelix.com if you have any other questions.

Question: How did you come about choosing Golden Helix over the other packages available?

Answer: It really was me surfing the web, and then watching a couple webinars. These webinars that are archived are really great resources. At that point, or I think soon after that, I downloaded Genome Browse and I know you guys have described it as this magical sensation as you expand out the genome and dive in. It just became this very easy tool to use, much better than any other browser I had experimented with. From that point, seeing Andreas’s blog post, I just became convinced this is a company I need to contact and has great software. And your intentions, especially from an educational standpoint, were like nothing else that I had seen out there, and that’s really how I got started.

Question: Without a tool like VarSeq, how would you go about teaching genomics in this manner?
Answer: Oh man, it would be a really slow and very painful process to do anything like what you saw me do today because literally that was looking at the entire set of SNP data, all the variants and my VCF file from Gene by Gene. I mean to go through that process with that kind of data, like literally, I knew what I wanted to do for this webinar and I started executing that on Sunday. It took me an afternoon. I got the data, already had the slides made. And that just shows you how getting that data collected was really no big deal at all. And again, you’re talking to a person who has minimal computer experience and certainly in bioinformatics next to no formal training. I think I sat in a couple lectures, but pretty much bare bones. But it’s an amazing tool, and I’m sure most people might think it’s really trivial what I did, but for people that are watching this webinar like I was I think can definitely see the power behind it.

Question: How quickly are you students able to pick up VarSeq and find areas of interest?

Answer: We started with a simple filter on day number one where I introduced VarSeq as a tool. I basically showed them one example and then said how would you make a filter that took all of your 23 and me SNPs and removed anything that was a reference sequence for your homozygous reference. Literally at the end of that one and a half hour classroom experience, the students in my class had that filter already constructed. I mean honestly, they got it very early on. I had already practiced myself, and had a little bit of experience, but was able to walk them through that. And then that week, they were turned loose and I just sort of said it’s a discovery class, go make a discovery. And they were on it, you know? That weekend they were writing a journal like the one I showed, and clearly having used the tool on their own computers with their own data or with my exome data.

Question: What interesting findings have your students discovered so far?

Answer: Well, I guess the most interesting finding, especially for the students that were examining my exome data, was that I got a pretty clean bill of health from what they were looking for. It was a pretty random search, but you saw for example that one person was looking for QT syndrome. And I think I got quite a few smiley faces from my students that basically said looks like you are in good shape as far as this gene goes or this particular potential phenotype. So I’m not sure if they’ve made any fascinating discoveries except to give me some peace of mind!

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