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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)January 10, 2003

(Mahwah) – For the second year in a row, an undergraduate bioinformatics research team from Ramapo College of New Jersey was awarded first prize at the Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists (MACUB) conference at CUNY-KCC, New York. Their presentation was entitled, “A ‘G’rich Element Conserved in Human Pre-mRNAs May Be Involved in RNA Processing Site Selection.”

Just a week before, the team won second prize at the Fifth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Their poster presentation, “Development of a Prototype Bioinformatics Program for Mapping Conserved Elements in Genomic Sequences,” entitled student Garrett Dancik to a cash prize and plaque. Dr. Paramjeet Bagga, associate professor of biology, was the mentor on these projects.

The bioinformatics program at Ramapo College is the first undergraduate program in the state. Students in the bioinformatics major at Ramapo College work with Bagga, who oversees the program and research projects in the lab. The goal of Bagga’s research has been to study interactions between cellular proteins and a conserved RNA sequence that influence human gene expression. Gene expression involves “reading” of the genetic information stored in the genes, and translating it to carry out the “orders” for normal functioning of the cell. Studying mechanisms of gene expression is vital for better insights into the mechanisms of carcinogenesis and other diseases that are the result of defective gene expression.

A recent study sponsored by the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey and its member companies, found that job growth in New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology industries will continue to rise faster than the supply of individuals graduating from New Jersey higher education institutions. It is projected that 46 percent of total job growth in these industries will be for graduates with degrees in math and science. Ramapo College’s bioinformatics major prepares students for employment in the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries as well as in academia, medicine, medical research and related disciplines.

The young interdisciplinary science of bioinformatics is a marriage of modern life science and computer science. The need for the specialty field was created in large part by the Human Genome Project. Genetic researchers need computer science-based technology to gather, store, analyze and integrate data they are collecting on the approximately 50,000 genes of the human genome. Bioinformatics is being used in a wide variety of applications to manage biological information and solve biological problems. It is proving very helpful in understanding biological mechanisms at genomic as well as proteomics levels.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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