Bioinformatics Summer Course / 2011

Analyzing Next-Generation Sequencing Data

June 6th - June 17th, 2011
Kellogg Biological Station, MSU

Applications are now open!
Please apply to attend the course by filling out this application form. Deadine for full consideration: March 25th.

Please sign up for the announcements mailing list if you are interested in taking this class now, or in the future.

Course sponsor: Gene Expression in Disease and Development Focus Group at Michigan State University.

Instructors: Dr. C. Titus Brown, Dr. Ian Dworkin, and Dr. Istvan Albert.

Course Description

This intensive two week summer course will introduce attendees with a strong biology background to the practice of analyzing short-read sequencing data from Roche 454, Illumina GA2, ABI SOLiD, Pacific Biosciences, and other next-gen platforms. The first week will introduce students to computational thinking and large-scale data analysis on UNIX platforms. The second week will focus on mapping, assembly, and analysis of short-read data for resequencing, ChIP-seq, and RNAseq.

No prior programming experience is required, although familiarity with some programming concepts is helpful, and bravery in the face of the unknown is necessary. 2 years or more of graduate school in a biological science is strongly suggested. Faculty, postdocs, and research staff are more than welcome!

Students will gain practical experience in:

  • Python and bash shell scripting
  • cloud computing/Amazon EC2
  • basic software installation on UNIX
  • installing and running maq, bowtie, and velvet
  • querying mappings and evaluating assemblies

Materials from last year's course are available at under a Creative Commons/use+reuse license.

You can read a blog post about last year's course here.

What will students learn?

By the end of the course, students will be able to map short-read data to sequenced genomes and query the mapping for variation, transcript prevalence (from mRNAseq data), and enriched genomic regions (from ChIP-seq data). They will also know how to transfer large data sets between computers, run extended analyses while asleep, execute and modify existing Python scripts, and otherwise effectively make use of basic computational resources.

Location, dates, and course structure.

The course will be held at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station on Gull Lake in western Michigan from noon on Monday, June 6th through noon on Friday, June 17th. Morning and afternoon lectures will be interspersed with practical hands-on labs. Room and board will be provided on-site (see enrolling, below). Sunday, June 12th, will be a day of rest & relaxation.

Applying for the course

An application is required, and we can accommodate approximately 24 students. Everyone is welcome, including students unaffiliated with MSU.

Please fill out this form to apply. Please be sure to submit your application form by March 25th for full consideration.

Tuition, course cost, and enrolling

We are charging a workshop fee of $450 per student instead of tuition. This covers the cost of the course; room, travel and board are not covered.

All students must also pay for on-site room and board (see Orchard Dorms) upon arrival. It should be about $500.

Applicants must commit to spending both weeks on-site! The middle Sunday will be free.

Taking the course for-credit

This year, there is no option for taking the course for credit at MSU or elsewhere, save by special arrangement with your university.


Please plan to bring a laptop (Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux are all OK). We do not have any additional laptops available this year.


C. Titus Brown ( holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Caltech, and has worked on digital evolution, physical meteorology, developmental biology, and genomics. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Engineering, and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, at Michigan State University, where his lab works on developmental biology, genomics and metagenomics data analysis, and software tool development.

Ian Dworkin ( holds a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Genetics from the University of Toronto, and has worked on Quantitative and statistical genetics, Evolutionary biology, genomics and developmental biology. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Zoology, and in the Program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior, at Michigan State University, where his lab works on evolutionary genomics of development, morphology and behavior, in addition to the development of new statistical tools.

Dr. Istvan Albert ( holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Notre Dame and has worked in statistical physics, data mining, bioinformatics and genomics. He is currently an Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Pennsylvania State University where his group works on developing novel data analysis and visualization methods in the fields of bioinformatics and medical informatics. He is also the maintainer of BioStar, a question and answer site for bioinformatics research:

Board of Advisors

Human genetics and genomics: Kevin White, James and Karen Frank Family Professor at University of Chicago.

Animal genetics and genomics: Paul W. Sternberg, Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology; member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Microbial evolution and resequencing: Richard E. Lenski, Hannah Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University; member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Plant genetics and genomics: Robin Buell, Associate Professor at Michigan State University.

Microbial population sequencing and metagenomics: James M. Tiedje,
Professor, Michigan State University; member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bioinformatics and genomics: Lincoln Stein, Platform Leader, Informatics and Bio-Computing, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License