Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Announces an OpenHelix Tutorial Suite on Advanced Features of GenoCAD

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Online tutorial suite includes self run, narrated tutorial, slides, slide handouts, and exercises.

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The GenoCAD website enables researchers to generate libraries of parts that can be used and re-used to generate unlimited designs supporting bench biologists in molecular biology construction efforts.

The Peccoud Lab, based at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, has partnered with OpenHelixTM to provide a tutorial suite on advanced features of their GenoCAD application.

GenoCAD is a Computer-Assisted Design application for synthetic biology projects, which was developed by the Peccoud Lab at Virginia Tech and supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EF-0850100. The GenoCAD website enables researchers to generate libraries of parts that can be used and re-used to generate unlimited designs supporting bench biologists in molecular biology construction efforts. Grammars that specify the order of elements provide a consistent yet flexible framework for creating construct designs.

This advanced topics tutorial expands on the concepts presented in that previously released introduction tutorial by demonstrating how new project libraries can be created using the Advanced Search and Cart tools; creation and modification of grammars and their underlying rules; and additional design features, such as cloning and exporting designs to GenBank format. To reinforce these concepts, advanced functions of the software are demonstrated with hands-on tasks. The “GenoCAD Advanced Topics” narrated tutorial is available online; it can be run in just about any web browser, and can be navigated in a number of ways. In about 45 minutes, the tutorial highlights and explains the features and functionality needed to start using GenoCAD effectively.

Viewers will learn:

  • the key features of advanced searches
  • advanced design strategies for quickly creating and modifying new constructs
  • exporting designs as GenBank-compatible files that can be used by third-party tools
  • managing grammars to support new projects
  • creating and modifying grammars to suit customized design needs

The tutorial can be used by new users to introduce them to the resource, by previous users to view new features and functionality, or simply as a reference tool to understand specific features.

In addition to the tutorial, users can also access useful training and teaching materials, including the animated PowerPoint slides used as a basis for the tutorial, suggested script for the slides, slide handouts, and exercises. This can save a tremendous amount of time and effort for teachers and professors planning classroom content.

Users can view the tutorial and download the materials at .

About OpenHelix
OpenHelix, LLC, ( provides a bioinformatics and genomics search and training portal, giving researchers one place to find and learn how to use resources and databases on the web. Researchers and institutions can save time, budget and staff resources by leveraging a subscription to over 100 online tutorial suites available through the portal. More efficient use of the most relevant resources means quicker and more effective research.

About Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
Established in 2000, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute is one of seven acclaimed research institutes designed to support Virginia Tech’s research mission. Our emphasis on informatics of complex interacting systems scales from the microbiome to the entire globe, helping to solve challenges posed to human health, security, and sustainability. Headquartered on the Blacksburg, Virginia campus, the institute occupies 154,600 square feet in research facilities, including state-of-the-art core laboratory and high performance computing facilities, as well as research offices in the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, Virginia.

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