I am Dilara Diken, a Molecular Biology and Genetics student at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul. During my undergraduate years I worked as a lab assistant in the Genetics Lab, where I attended course lab sessions. I was also lucky enough to participate in research aimed at non-small cell lung cancer but I was mainly involved in the wet lab and I did not get the opportunity to take part in dry lab. Since arguably the most important part of a research is actually making sense of the data that is collected, I wanted to learn more about bioinformatics methods. When I was searching for courses online that could take me from beginner to skilled, I came across the OmicsLogic Bioinformatics Research Fellowship program at Pine Biotech. Not only are there courses available to introduce you to different omics technologies but there are also practice projects.
These courses ranged from transcriptomics and genomics to metagenomics and epigenetics. Integrated within these online courses are checkpoint quizzes to ensure that you have grasped the concepts correctly. There are also hands-on assignments where you get access to the T-BioInf server to practice what you have learned in theory. These assignments are evaluated by the course lecturers who give you feedback on how you can improve your analytical skills. This feedback is not limited to the assignments, there are also meetings every week to meet with the rest of the team members and supervisors to discuss weekly progress and share opinions.
In addition to this we were encouraged to carry out a self-designed project to put our skills to test. The metagenomics courses were very interesting in terms of application and how the microbiome is linked with other diseases, which lead me to explore this further. My project was on “Radiation Threats to Humans in Space and an approach to Probiotic Treatment,” where I explored how high linear energy transfer (LET) radiation affects the mice gut microbiome. The results that I anticipated on how radiation decreases abundances of bacteria that aid the nervous system was true. These bacteria, which are generally lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species produce gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter. Decreased levels of GABA are associated with anxiety and depression- a condition prominent among astronauts. However, nowadays probiotics are being used to replenish the microbiome of individuals to overcome conditions caused by dysbiosis- unbalanced gut microbiome, which is a cost-effective treatment strategy.
Big data analysis is an important aspect of dealing with the copious amounts of data that we obtain. In this day and age when technologies are developing at a fast pace it is fundamental to have a grasp on the concepts and algorithms that can be used. For this reason I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to join the OmicsLogic program to develop my bioinformatics skills and conduct a project. Looking back now at how far I have come with the guidance and support of my supervisors I feel accomplished and motivated. I plan on using the knowledge I gained during this Bioinformatics Research Fellowship in my future career and research.