Summer iCourse Spotlight: Introduction to Microbiome Community Analysis Methods

Nov. 7, 2022

A new health sciences iCourse is available for enrollment this summer.


The University of Arizona Health Sciences is continuing to expand online course offerings with the announcement of a new iCourse, available for enrollment in Summer 2023. “Introduction to Microbiome Community Analysis Methods” is available to students in the five UArizona Health Sciences colleges as part of an overall mission to increase access to health sciences education at home and around the world.

Microorganisms represent the oldest, most ubiquitous, and dominant lifeforms on Earth. These microscopic creatures shaped the Earth’s evolution since its dawn nearly 4 billion years ago; however, the study of microorganisms is relatively new and many knowledge gaps remain. Technologies that became available in the last two decades now allow us to study not only individual bacteria, but entire communities and their interactions.

“Introduction to Microbiome Community Analysis Methods” will give students a comprehensive look at microbiomes, methods and terminology of ecological principles, and the newest tools and technologies available to analyze microbiomes. During the course, students will learn about many of the molecular, mostly DNA-based methods of analyzing microbiomes including next-generation sequencing, study design, and bioinformatic tools for data analysis and presentation. 

The course is composed of three modules. The first module will provide a theoretical
background and knowledge about the microbiome and the methods of its analysis. The second
module will provide fundamental skills with bioinformatic tools used to process, statistically
analyze and visualize the results. In this module, students will be given hands-on experience
with R scripts and packages such as Dada2, ggplot, vegan and DeSeq2. The third module will
consist of lectures that place the gained knowledge about microbiome analysis in the context of
human health, host-associated microbiome, and the consequences of human disease, diet, and
lifestyle on the associated microbial communities.

A mini-series of video podcasts will provide the students an opportunity to learn from the best scientists studying different microbiomes and their function.

College of Medicine - Tucson

13 Week Summer Session: May 15 – August 9, 2023

MIBM 501  Introduction to Microbiome Community Analysis Methods

3 units | Taught by Daniel Laubitz, PhD

This course will present basic concepts of microbial communities in the context of human health and disease and the methods in DNA-based compositional and functional analysis of complex microbial communities.

For a long time, understanding the role of microbial communities, their composition and function was challenging due their complexity and lack of appropriate methods. During this course, students will learn how to explore microbial communities using the Next Generation Sequencing methods and bioinformatic tools. Students will be introduced to and explore research methods and tools used to collect and analyze microbial communities. This course will cover the fundamentals of microbial ecology, the ecology of the microbial communities on and within the human body, the relationship between microbiota and their environment, and health consequences of community perturbations.

The course will be especially useful to pre-health science professions students (Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health) as well as students planning a career in biomedical research.

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