A workshop entitled “Genetics and Bio-informatics” and led by Professor Georges Perry was held on June 19, 20 and 21 at Habaka Innovation Hub, in the well-known Tsimbazaza district. This workshop is a partnership between Habaka and Penn State University in the United States.
A workshop focused on Bioinformatics
At the Habaka Innovation Hub, things are moving and evolving very quickly. This was the setting for the “Genetics and Bio-informatics” workshop, which was a great opportunity for innovation and discovery. This event took place over three days. The first day was dedicated to an introduction to genetics and to the familiarization with the tools used during the workshop (computing environment setup). The second involved working sessions on these tools. Finally, the third session focused on the various applications of bioinformatics, and a presentation of the speakers’ published research. A study on the genetics of the Malagasy population was presented.
The workshop was orchestrated by Pr. D. students in bioinformatics from Penn State University and the University of Antananarivo. The participants – students – all have a specialty, ranging from anthropology to biochemistry, medicine, biology or computer science. The objective was to initiate them to computer analysis of human genetic variation with applications in the medical, industrial, or genetic field.
What is bioinformatics?
Of course, we have heard of biology and again of computer science, but what does the term bioinformatics imply? This is a field of research where several disciplines work side by side: biology, medicine, computer science, mathematics, physics… with the aim of solving a biological problem. It is therefore logical that the fields of predilection of the students who took part in this project are heterogeneous.
Students with varied profiles
The origin of the students was multiple: Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Toliara, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga… They all came to attend the workshop to learn, discuss and exchange. Most discovered the world of bioinformatics during the event and learned how new technologies can be used for scientific research.
“As a computer enthusiast, I discovered a way to combine my passion with my medical studies by using the vast field of bioinformatics,” said Tsinjoniaina Rakotovao, a postgraduate medical student.
Nearly 90 students from all over the island applied online for the “Genetics and Bio-informatics” workshop. After selection, a small number of participants were retained. Handpicked, they were chosen not only for their background in coding or technological skills but also for their motivation to attend the workshop. Tsinjoniaina Rakotovao, having been one of the few students selected, was particularly impressed by “the strong potential of Malagazy students”. The students were able to become aware of the extremely vast aspect of scientific research in Madagascar thanks to this use of bioinformatics. The workshop will be repeated next year and will crown a new class.