Available Until 4/22/2024

Bioinformatics and Biology Essentials for Librarians - 2024

For more information on this course, or to schedule, please contact NLM Trainers at NLMTrainers@nih.gov.

Bioinformatics and Biology Essentials for Librarians: Databases, Tools, and Clinical Applications is designed both for librarians who offer, or intend to offer, bioinformatics services; and also for librarians who use gene and protein information on a periodic or irregular basis to serve their patrons. The 14-week, self-paced Moodle course reviews basic biology concepts and takes a deep dive into NCBI Molecular Biology Databases. Successful participants are invited to join an Alumni Forum which includes discussion and bi-monthly learning opportunities.

Subject Matter Experts/Additional Instructors for this course include: Dr. Peter Cooper, PhD, Dana Abbey, Nancy Shin, Aimee Gogan, Molly Knapp, and Kate Majewski.

Course Available: 1/16/24–4/22/2024

Course URL: https://nnlm.gov/training/class-catalog/bioinformatics-and-biology-essentials-librarians-databases-tools-and

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to: 

Pre-Work: Genetics Basics 

  • Gain a functional understanding of molecular biology concepts sufficient to use the NCBI bioinformatics databases 

Part 1: Intro to Bioinformatics and the NCBI Nucleotide Database 

  • Define bioinformatics, describing some research questions that scientists are exploring now using bioinformatics tools and techniques 
  • Explore the roles and activities of other librarians working in bioinformatics 
  • Describe what kinds of information are contained in the Nucleotide database 
  • Develop a search strategy for common patron questions in the Nucleotide database 

Part 2: Gene, Structure, and Protein Databases 

  • Identify where genetic and protein data comes from 
  • Describe what kinds of information are contained in the Gene, Structure and Protein databases 
  • Answer common patron questions in the Gene, Structure and Protein databases 
  • Find genetic information that is translated to clinical application 

Part 3: Challenges, Goals, and the Future of Bioinformatics 

  • Discuss public policy and ethical implications of bioinformatics data storage, access and use 
  • Explain one or two major challenges bioinformatics creates, and identify those challenges within your professional life 
  • List some of the goals of current genomic research and explain some of the latest newsworthy developments
  • Direct others to experts and sources of assistance


Week 1: Genetics Basics 

Week 2: Genetics Basics 

The first two weeks of the course consist of pre-work to orient you to molecular biology concepts you need to understand in order to use the bioinformatics databases effectively. We've framed the learning experience as an open book quiz with readings and activities and given you two weeks to work through the content and ask questions using the discussion board.   
Week 3: Introduction 

What is bioinformatics and what does it have to do with librarianship? In this module you'll learn the scope of bioinformatics and explore different roles for librarians by watching a 60 minute video and forum discussion. 

Week 4: Molecular Biology Techniques 

How do scientists acquire nucleotide sequences from organisms? In this module you'll explore some basic techniques for sequencing through an interactive website and open book quiz.  

Week 5: NCBI Nucleotide 

The NCBI Nucleotide database is where you can find the DNA and RNA sequences. This module explores the NCBI Nucleotide Database through videos, a hands-on exercise, and quiz. 

Week 6: BLAST Sequence Similarity 

This module uses videos and hands-on exercises to explore the Basic Local Alignment Sequence Tool (BLAST) to identify and compare sequences, and review the GenBank record. 

Week 7: NCBI Gene 

The NCBI Gene Database pulls together data from many sources, to give you quick access to what is known about a gene. In this module you will learn about the NCBI Gene database through videos, a hands-on exercise, and quiz.  

Week 8: Basics of Proteins 

Before you delve into the NCBI Protein and Structure Databases, it's best to understand the structure and function of proteins. This module reviews the fundamentals through videos and an open book quiz.  

Week 9:  NCBI Protein and Structure Databases 

This module shows how to use the Protein and Structure Databases through videos, hands-on exercises and quiz.  

Week 10: Clinical Applications 

This module uses video and hands-on exercises to explore the NCBI databases MedGen, ClinVar and Genetic Testing Registry (GTR). 

Week 11: Ethics and Policy in Bioinformatics 

In this module, we discuss public policy and the ethical implications of bioinformatics data storage, access, and use through readings, videos and discussion posts.  

Week 12: What's Next in Genomic Research 

This module takes a look at advances in genomic research through readings in Genetics Home Reference and a PubMed literature search activity.  

Week 13: Synthesis 

You now have an opportunity to reflect on and apply what you've learned. Work through four synthesis activities based on actual questions that the NCBI has been asked, then reflect on your own next steps by creating a personal bioinformatics action plan.  

Week 14: Synthesis and Evaluation 

Take an additional week to finish up your synthesis activities, then complete the evaluation to receive CE credit from the Medical Library Association.  

MLA CE Credits: 30