CB 399: Next Generation Sequencing Technologies: Principles and Applications Fall 2011

Intellectual Unit:

Next Generation Sequencing Technologies:  Principles and Applications
Nanocourse Director: Dr. Fred Winston
Curriculum Fellow: Leah Brault
Lecturers: Dr. Chad Nusbaum, Co-director, Genome Sequencing and Analysis program, Broad Institute; Dr. Gabor Marth, Associate Professor of Biology, Boston College; Mr. Robert Steen, Director, Harvard Medical School Biopolymers Facility

Traditional capillary sequencing technology using base-specific chain termination by fluorescent di-deoxy nucleotides represents modifications to the original sequencing methodology devised by Sanger and colleagues in the 1970s.  Recent years have seen the  development of next generation parallel sequencing technologies that are rapidly replacing older methodologies.  Sequencing by synthesis enables the simultaneous sequence analysis of millions of DNA templates at the same time, or in parallel.  These new approaches allow for DNA sequencing at a markedly faster pace, and often at a much cheaper price, making sequencing projects feasible for an ever-expanding number of researchers.  This nanocourse will explore the methodology and principles behind parallel sequencing technology, and how it measures up to traditional sequencing methods.  A discussion of the services available at the Department of Genetics Biopolymers core facility, including order placement, data output, and turnaround times, will also be included for researchers interested in utilizing these resources.


First Session: Wednesday, October 19th, 1:00 – 4:30 pm
Location: TMEC Building, room 250
Second Session: Monday, October 24th, 1:30 – 4:00 pm
Location: Gordon Hall, Alumni Conference Room, 3rd Floor

Student Assignment:

Using the concepts learned during the lectures and your reading list as a guide, prepare a 1-2 page “mini grant” proposal that will use new sequencing technology to tackle a problem in your area of scientific interest.  Please include the following components:

1. An introduction to the problem you are trying to solve and a description of how new sequencing technology will help address it.

2. A description of which technology you think is most appropriate to use and why.

3. A description of what you hope to learn and what its impact will be.

4. A conclusion briefly describing the vision for your work beyond the scope of the proposal (ie. “future directions” based upon the results you hope to obtain from your experiments).


  • Please provide a brief (100-150 word) synopsis of the question you would like to answer with next gen sequencing technologies by 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 21st.  Please email these assignments to the Curriculum Fellow, lbrault@genetics.med.harvard.edu.
  • Completed assignments are due at the start of Session 2 at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, October 24th. 

The discussion session will include a more in-depth discussion of practical applications of next generation sequencing technology, including experimental design, costs, limitations, and benefits.  Your proposals will be used as a launching point for the discussion; several proposals will be selected at random to be discussed, so please be prepared to talk about what you have written!   


DROP DEADLINE: Wednesday,  October 12, 2011