The Genomics Leadership Initiative at Juniata College has been funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and National Science Foundation.  The initiative seeks to achieve its goal by developing a genomics certificate program, a leadership module, and student summer research experiences. 

Genomics Certificate Program

Comprised of seven courses, the genomics certificate addresses both the science and the broader ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) surrounding progress and discoveries in the field of genomics. The ethical, legal and social issues surrounding advances in genomics provides a strong focus for practicing a breadth of knowledge and skills; the understanding of the scientific foundation of genomics provides the focus for developing an interdisciplinary base and cross disciplinary understanding of the life sciences in an era of “big data”. To help support this part of the program the grant has also funded an ELSI faculty development workshop, a seminar series, stipends for faculty developing new or revised classes, and stipends for faculty to formally assess the learning gains of students as a result of programmatic activities.

What is a Certificate?

In general, an undergraduate certificate provides an interdisciplinary curriculum that is not available within any single academic unit. A certificate offers the possibility of a more cohesive general education experience oriented around a theme and taught by faculty who work together as a group on an ongoing basis and have common inter-departmental learning objectives and assessments. The awarding of the certificate is noted on the student’s transcript.

Who is this Certificate For?

Students intending to pursue careers in biological research and medicine are the primary target. However, students interested in careers in public policy, public health, law, and business will gain by developing similar competencies.

Why Should a Student Get this Certificate?

As cost of a human genome approaches $1,000, appreciation of both the science and the ethical, legal, and societal implications of genomics has become an increasingly pressing issue. Design of the certificate was based on recommendations from a joint document between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) entitled, “Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians.” This report emphasized the importance of integrative scientific approaches, scientific reasoning, intellectual curiosity, communication and decision making skills, adaptability, ethical principles, and understanding of patients as individuals and in a social context. HHMI has funded Juniata College to implement this certificate program.

Description and Goals of a Certificate in Genomics, Ethics, and Society

Comprised of seven courses, the certificate addresses both the science and the broader ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) surrounding progress and discoveries in the field of genomics. No area of modern biology provides a more appropriate focus for combining the humanities and sciences than the ethical, social and legal implications (ELSI) of the human genome project and the evolution of the field of personalized medicine. The subject cannot be completely addressed without the input of specialists working across disciplinary boundaries. The ethical, legal and social issues surrounding advances in genomics provide a strong focus for practicing a breadth of knowledge and skills while understanding the acts of judgment and social contexts involved in the development and application of scientific knowledge; the understanding of the scientific foundation of genomics provides the focus for developing an interdisciplinary base and cross disciplinary understanding of the life sciences in an era of “big data”.

Learning Objectives:

Students who attain genomics certification will be able to:

  • Describe the basic concepts and principles of genomics.
  • Explain the scope of genomics from genes to society.
  • Integrate knowledge of the chemical, physical, mathematical and computational bases of genomics.
  • Explain the importance of the place of genomics in the human effort to understand natural phenomena, including its history and social impact.
  • Be able to make and justify ethical judgments about genomics research and its uses in medical practice and elsewhere.
  • Use the skills and interdisciplinary perspectives of the liberal arts in understanding trends in genomics and communicating them to academic peers and others.
  • Apply the process of science to questions in genomics.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of a selected field in genomics.
  • Progress into a leadership role, working with experts and non-experts, with an awareness of the likely results of one's actions and an understanding of how results might differ in different settings and different cultures.

Requirements

Core Courses: All students pursuing a genomics certificate must take four core courses required for a genomics certificate. Download the Genome Certificate Sheet to organize and plan your course of study.

If your POE is outside of Biology or Chemistry: As with most of the ELSI options, Human Biology, Intro Prob and Stat, and Computer Science I - Genomics have few to no prerequisites.

1) Genomics, Ethics and Society (IC 203; Fall; MW 1-2:50PM; prereq: EN-110 OR EN-109) A team-taught course that lays the foundations for interdisciplinary work on the ethical and social dimensions of genomics:.

2) A course covering basic molecular biology, genetics, and genomics:

  • Biology II BI 106; Fall; N division class; T/Th 9 to 10:20AM, or T/Th 1 to 2:20PM, Discussion Sections Fri 8 or 10AM; prereqs: BI-105 CH-142, CH-143
  • Talk Nerdy To Me BI 399; Spring; N division class; MWF 8 to 9AM
  • Human Biology BI 190; Not for biology majors; Fall; N division class; MWF 9 to 9:55PM

3) At least three credits of statistics:

  • Biostatistics with lab BI 305, Fall; N and QS division class; T/TH 10:30 to 11:50AM; Lab M 1 to 2:55PM or 3 to 4:55; BI105 or ESS100 prereq
  • Environmetrics ESS 230; Fall N division and QS class; T/Th 10:30 to 11:55AM; Sophomore standing and permission
  • Introductory Probability and Statistics MA 220, Fall MWF 9 to 9:50AM; Discussion Th 8-8:50AM; Spring MWF 2 to 2:50PM, TH 2:30 to 3:25PM; QS and N division class, prereq MA130.

4) One course covering informatics and analysis of large data sets:

  • Information Discovery IM 241, Fall QS and S division class; T/TH 9 to 10:20AM; prereqs IT110 or IT111 or CS110 or Instructors Permission (confirm with Loren Rhodes)
  • Molecular Microbiology (BI331) and lab (BI332), Fall, N division class, MW 11am - 12:20pm,  prereqs BI207 or Instructors Permission (Lamendella).
  • Biological Sciences Research Methods (Lamendella, Buonaccorsi, and Keeney sections)
    • Even Spring Semesters (Buonaccorsi), N division class; MW 2 to 4:50PM; prereqs BI105, BI121, BI122 or Instructors Permission
    • Even Fall Semesters (confirm with Keeney), N division class; schedule TBA; prereqs BI105, BI121, BI122 or Instructors Permission
  • Computer Science 110 section G only, Spring N class, MWF 8AM to 8:55AM
  • Unix CS 255U, 1 credit Fall semester, T 8AM, prereq Computer Science 110 or Instructors Permission (Loren Rhodes);          AND
    • Perl CS255P, 2 credits, Spring, prereq Computer Science 110 or Instructors Permission (Loren Rhodes), sophomore standing, self study
               OR
    • Python CS255Y, 2 credits, Spring, prereq Computer Science 110 or Instructors Permission (Loren Rhodes), sophomore standing, self study

Electives: In addition to the core courses, students must take at least three elective courses related to ELSI genomic themes:

  1. Disease, Medicine, and Empire, History 313, Spring. May count as a CA, or an H or I division class. MW 1 to 2:20PM.  
  2. Medieval Medicine: Health and Disease in the Middle Ages History HS 314, Every Spring. H division class. T/Th 10:30 to 11:50AM
  3. Medicine and Literature RU 275, Fall of odd numbered years.  May count as a either a  CA, or an H or I division class. T/TH 9 to 10:20AM, F Noon to 12:50PM
  4. Science and Human Values Philosophy PL 250, Spring of odd numbered years, H division class.
  5. Moral Judgment Psychology 3XX, Every Summer online, S division class.
  6. Leadership in the 21rst Century. Business EB 375, Springs online (3 cr) AND Executive Leadership Business 199, 1 cr, Spring, Weds 3 to 4PM
  7. Medical Anthropology, AN 399. Spring T/TH 2:30 to 3:50PM.

Management Plan

Students must submit a notice of intent to complete the certificate to Prof. Vince Buonaccorsi before senior year.  The certificate may be approved by Vince Buonaccorsi, Jill Keeney, Jay Hosler, Jim Roney, or Kim Roth (the certificate advisory board). Courses other than those listed above may also apply if approved by this group. Download the Genome Certificate Sheet to organize and plan your course of study.

Genomics Certificate Program Pre-Assessment

Students interested in pursuing a genomics certificate should do they following:

First, be sure to follow the Genomics Certificate Notice of Interest link and send your name to the program director. This does not obligate you to joining the program but it does put you on our radar so that we can assist you if you choose to go through the certificate process.

Second, we need you to take a few pre-tests to establish your baseline knowledge of genomics and ELSI. The following assessment is a required component of the genomics certificate program. These pretests will be compared to a post test you will take at the end of the program to help us gauge if the program is being successful. 

There are two tests (links below) covering demographic information and core content knowledge. Please take both and enter your student ID on EACH of the assessment test. While you will be providing your student ID number, your results will be kept anonymous, and will be removed once we match up pre- and post- tests. The questions are multiple-choice except for an essay at the end that will take about 20 minutes. 

You are not expected to know everything (or anything) on this test, but please take your time and do your best. We ask that you take no more than a total of 25 minutes to complete both tests.