The rapid evolution of sophisticated data-intensive technologies has created a growing need for well-trained informatics scientists and computational biologists particularly in the field of cancer research. An inter-institutional effort to support state-of-the art training in computational biology and bioinformatics in San Antonio has assembled an experienced group of faculty in order to develop a unique educational training program in bioinformatics and computational biology with an emphasis on the needs of the cancer research community. This program will provide opportunities for students and faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), a minority serving institution, to gain relevant experience by interacting directly with cancer center members at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), an NCI designated Cancer Center. The interaction will also provide UTHSCSA cancer researchers with needed computational analysis and modeling assistance from quantitative scientists across both campuses. Additional opportunities will be provided for intensive short courses/workshops for computational biology training aimed for a mixed audience of biologists and quantitative scientists is also planned. Thus, a total of three programs are proposed that are all focused on education. The programs will include: 1) Computation Biology/Bioinformatics Graduate Education;2) Paid Internship Program;and 3) Continuing Education Opportunities. A unique aspect of the proposal is the use of real data and research questions in cancer and health disparities to provide a context for the graduate education of program 1, the basic skill sets for participants in program 2, and the hands-on activities for the broader audience of program 3. This multifocal approach should strengthen the interaction between the cancer center and the minority servicing institution. These efforts will ultimately lead to the submission of an R25 application.
The proposed partnership will improve the cancer research capability of both institutions. It will allow quantitative biologists a unique opportunity to interact with the cancer community and will provide them unique training opportunities in the every expanding field of computation biology and bioinformatics. The reciprocal interaction exposing cancer biologists to state of the art analysis methods and modeling approaches is also supported.