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Elgin SCR, Bangera G, Buonaccorsi VP, et al.. A Genomics Education Alliance. July 2017. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.5197228.v1


Scientists are sequencing new genomes at an increasing rate with the goal of associating genome contents with phenotypic traits. After a new genome is sequenced and assembled, structural gene annotation is often the first step in analysis. Despite advances in computational gene prediction algorithms, most eukaryotic genomes still benefit from manual gene annotation. Undergraduates can become skilled annotators, and in the process learn both about genes/genomes and about how to utilize large datasets. Data visualizations provided by a genome browser are essential for manual gene annotation, enabling annotators to quickly evaluate multiple lines of evidence (e.g., sequence similarity, RNA-Seq, gene predictions, repeats). However, creating genome browsers requires extensive computational skills; lack of the expertise required remains a major barrier for many biomedical researchers and educators.

To address these challenges, the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP; has partnered with the Galaxy Project ( to develop G-OnRamp (, a web-based platform for creating UCSC Assembly Hubs and JBrowse genome browsers. G-OnRamp can also convert a JBrowse instance into an Apollo instance for collaborative genome annotations in research and educational settings. G-OnRamp enables researchers to easily visualize their experimental results, educators to create Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) centered on genome annotation, and students to participate in genomics research.

Development of G-OnRamp was guided by extensive user feedback from in-person workshops. Sixty-five researchers and educators from over 40 institutions participated in these workshops, which produced over 20 genome browsers now available for research and education. For example, genome browsers for four parasitoid wasp species were used in a CURE engaging 142 students taught by 13 faculty members —producing a total of 192 gene models. G-OnRamp can be deployed on a personal computer or on cloud computing platforms, and the genome browsers produced can be transferred to the CyVerse Data Store for long-term access.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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