DiscoverGenomics! Science Education Program

Applications for the 2020 Summer Internship Program will be accepted beginning in February and run through March. Please see our application page for further details.


The JCVI DiscoverGenomics! Science Education Program provides broad-based community resources for science education and professional development to students, teachers, and scientists. We believe that some of the most valuable contributions our researchers can make to science happen outside of the lab, when we connect with our community to inspire and encourage exploration of the wonder and potential of the natural world. We are committed to providing access to science for all.

Our mission is to:

  • Enhance scientific literacy
  • Increase enthusiasm for science
  • Develop the next-generation of genomic scientists


The J. Craig Venter Institute has a tradition of offering professional development and educational opportunities for students, science professionals, and educators, as well as non-science professionals. The Institute has been actively engaged in training and professional development for 25 years, serving hundreds of students worldwide.

JCVI’s training philosophy revolves around a mix of not only lecture-based seminars, but also hands-on training in both the wet lab and in silico computational environments. Each training course and workshop is designed and scaled to engage the attendees at their own level, from high school students all the way to seasoned biomedical researchers and medical clinicians. Further, it is always a goal for the students to take home the ability to apply their lessons at their home facilities. To that end, practical exercises are performed on real data, and JCVI frequently shares virtual machine images and instructions for setting up the same data analysis pipelines and tools that were employed during training sessions. Students are also encouraged to contact their JCVI instructors if they require any downstream consultations.

The longest running continual training program in the Institute has been funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), under the current Genome Center for Infectious Disease cooperative agreement (GCID), and its predecessor contracts, the Genome Sequencing Center for Infectious Disease (GSCID), and Microbial Sequencing Center (MSC). The GCID has made a concerted effort to offer not only in-person training in developing countries, but also to multiply the reach and efficiency of the workshops by broadcasting sessions on the internet. Highlights of GCID training and outreach include:

Training Highlights

Advanced Genomics, Metagenomics, and Bioinformatics Workshop

Held at the University of the West Indies campus in St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago, participants included 60 individuals from Trinidad, England, Guyana and Barbados. On-line participants were from all over the world including Gambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, USA, and the Caribbean. Topics covered included emerging tropical viral diseases, metagenomics and bacterial genomics analysis, and proteomic studies.

ICMR Sequencing and Informatics Workshop

Five senior level clinicians from the Indian Council for Medical Research and representatives from NIAID visited the JCVI in La Jolla, CA for an in-depth workshop. The workshop covered much ground, starting with hands-on wet lab lessons on library construction and sequencing on both the Illumina and Oxford Nanopore platforms, and progressed through assembly and data analysis. Through the entire session, a special focus was on antimicrobial resistance detection as this is a growing threat in India.

See a complete history of the NIAID/JCVI outreach program.

DiscoverGenomics! Mobile Lab

DiscoverGenomics! Mobile Learning is a versatile educational platform for hands-on learning.

At JCVI, we believe every child deserves access to authentic, hands-on, inquiry-based science experiences. This is the philosophy driving our DiscoverGenomics! (DG!) Mobile Lab. The mobile lab is a modified motor coach, outfitted with advanced laboratory equipment, electricity, running water and network capabilities that delivers science concepts and equipment directly to students.

DiscoverGenomics! Science Education Program logo

The DG! Mobile Lab is used in a variety of formal and informal educational settings.

The DG! Mobile Lab is a versatile platform and can be used in several modes, such as:

  • a roving classroom laboratory that visits schools directly
  • an exhibit at science fairs that brings shorter length, hands-on activities to many more students per visit
  • an outreach platform that allows students to interact with professional scientists as they explain their science in a laboratory environment

To help expand our impact, we also partner with The League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers (LXS), a San Diego non-profit and growing community of scientists, entomologists, biologists, oceanographers, architects, engineers, educators, and parents. Together, we are working to bring collaborative learning opportunities to children at a young age, when they are most receptive.

DiscoverGenomics! Mobile Lab History

The DG! Mobile Lab program began in 2006 thanks to funding from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Over a five-year period from 2006 through 2011, The DG! Mobile Lab visited over 60 middle schools in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, operating from JCVI’s Rockville, Maryland facility. More than 14,000 students participated in 30,000 hands-on activities within the mobile laboratory. Up to 26 students can board the Mobile Lab at one time to conduct experiments in a unique environment designed to stimulate curiosity and increased scientific interest. These activities familiarize middle school students with fundamental bioscience concepts and techniques that are foundational to the pursuit of a life sciences degree or a career in today’s life science research industry.

In 2013 the mobile lab moved to JCVI’s campus in the San Diego, California area, where it has been a part of JCVI’s educational outreach to local schools and other public events. The DG! Mobile Lab visited 5 San Diego middle schools, reaching close to 1000 students. The larger California class sizes were not ideal for the size of the mobile lab, thus we “reprogrammed” our use of the lab to deliver other types of science experiences. For example, at San Diego’s High Tech Fair, which attracts thousands of students in grades 7 to 12 annually, JCVI exhibited an activity titled "Microbiomes: From Sewage to Seawater and Beyond". Visitors to the DG! Mobile Lab experienced an exhibit with hands-on activities about the importance of microbes, the role of genomics for understanding them, and how to put microbial communities to work. Since 2013, the DG! Mobile Lab has reached well over 7,000 students and family members in the San Diego area.

At JCVI, we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to offer science education opportunities with the DG! Mobile Lab. If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact us at