In a recent collaboration with Science Coach, we organized a pilot program for high school students on Bioinformatics and research. The program has been designed to break down the logic of bioinformatics analysis and provide a user-friendly toolkit of bio-statistical and machine learning techniques to a variety of biomedical challenges that can be used by novices without technical and engineering background. The students not only learnt about big data analysis used in life sciences, but also got access to the T-BioInfo analytical platform as part of this online project-based training.
Hannah Davis, a senior from Hayti High School in Missouri was part of this innovative pilot program. Under the guidance of her mentor, Tiska Rodgers, Hannah went on to apply what she had learnt to a project on Type 1 Diabetes that is important to both her and her. Her goal was to find the root cause of Type 1 Diabetes, and she turned to bioinformatics and big data analysis tools to work on her project. Thankfully, lots of data on such topics is publicly available on repositories like the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
Hannah started out in August 2019 with no knowledge of what Bioinformatics is and quickly became one of the top students of this program. By October 2019, she was able to work on her own project using the pipelines on the T-BioInfo server that she used over the period of the next few months, developing her own Bioinformatics Research Project.
See Hannah’s profile page on the sciencecoach.t-bio.info training portal.
Hannah performed months of research and ultimately hypothesized that dual expressing cells are the fundamental factor that causes Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). To identify cell type and pathway of differentiation, cDNA of cells from public genomic data was compared using RNA-seq bioinformatic analysis in the T-BioInfo Platform.
Gene expression analysis supported the idea that the DE cell is a B cell mimicking NKT cell that is equipped with a BCR for insulin binding, which triggers cytotoxicity. The cell typing and differentiation pathway of the DE cell potentially eliminates outside T cell involvement in islet destruction and defines the DE cell as the primary cause of disease. Furthermore, NK cell typing of the DE cell provides promising opportunities for early detection, prevention, and reversion methods for T1D.
See Hannah’s full project presentation here: https://youtu.be/ofBp0TRhtGQ
Hannah has had many high school accomplishments, including winning the First Place at SEMO Regional Science Fair in category of Physics, The Society for In Vitro Biology Certificate, United States Air Force Certificate of Achievement, The Yale Science and Engineering Award, First Place and Best in Category at SEMO Regional Science Fair in category of Biomedical Science, 2nd Overall and Top Senior project at SEMO fair, International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Observer 2019, ISEF Finalist 2020, Missouri Junior Academy of Science Highly Superior Award and advanced to State two years in a row, with the opportunity to present research to the Director of the US Trademark and Patent Office.
As she finishes her school studies, Hannah is in the process of having her research peer-reviewed for publishing. In the fall, Hannah plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis to major in Biology while following the Pre-Med path in order to eventually become a medical researcher. We are all excited to see this progress and continue to support bright students like Hannah to incorporate bioinformatics in their research.