2020 Scripps camp

 Computational Biology Research Camp for High School Students at Scripps Research Institute

Gene Expression Data analysis and R programming


Students with camp certificates will be qualified to become miRcore volunteers. Each school year, high school miRcore volunteers choose a disease of focus of the year, collaborate with similar level students to research the disease throughout the year, and lead a school club GIDAS (pronounce: guide-us; Genes in Diseases and Symptoms). The summer camp is the starting point to build high school student research network in San Diego and other regions (main one in Ann Arbor, Michigan). We are grateful that the Scripps Research Institute is sponsoring the camp.


NEW THIS YEAR:, we will pilot using an R machine learning package during the camp after learning basic AI concepts in identifying diseases.

NOTE: A separate basic genomics session will be given to accommodate students who may not have taken first year high school biology.

DATE: Week 1: July 27-31 Week 2: Aug 3-7, 2020 (Mon – Fri)

TIME: 9 am – 4 pm, Pacific time

Week 1: Students will give an end of week presentation of their findings from patient RNA expression data.
Week 2: R programming language will be taught to enhance research skills towards publication.

Please note that this camp is not residential.

LOCATION: The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037   Online

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Current (2019-20) high school and incoming 9th grade students interested in computers, math, biology, and medicine.

FEE: $1080 (includes miRcore regular membershp).

We have a limited number of partial scholarships available for students with a free or reduced price lunch program.  Once you register, we will send payment information along with the scholarship application. 

Bring a laptop and lunch (morning and afternoon snacks provided). 


Scripps Research Translational Institute


  1. Expose high school students to career opportunities in biomedicine through hands-on experience in computational genomics and prepare them for the emerging era of medical genomics, when all doctors must be well-acquainted with genetic discoveries, technologies, and applications.
  2. Give research opportunities to high school students beyond the school setting.
  3. Identify potential GIDAS (Genes In Diseases And Symptoms) club leaders at their schools.


Specific Aims

Week 1 (An overview of this week can be found at the bottom of the page linked here)

  1. Differentiate gene entities (DNA, RNA, and proteins) and understand the mechanisms of gene expression (transcription and translation).
  2. Understand genetic biomarkers in a disease context and the effects of environmental factors such as exercise, food consumption, substance abuse, and medication.
  3. Learn about personalized medicine (precision medicine – President Obama’s 2015 initiative).
  4. Be familiar with career paths related to computational biology.
  5. Become familiar with the National Center for Biotechnology Information database and software package.
  6. Learn tools and concepts, useful for individual research projects.
  7. Week 1 Friday (July 31st) Parents are invited to students’ presentations (afternoon).Each group will suggest a way of preventing the disease based on the week’s research.

Week 2

  1. Understand the mechanisms of gene regulation (transcription factors, methylation, and microRNA).
  2. Learn to use R packages and basic programming.
  3. Understand the TCGA database and various types of cancers.
  4. Learn to make publication-quality graphics of analyzed data
  5. Find specific cancer microRNA biomarkers.
  6. Develop collaborative teamwork.
  7. Try R machine learning package for patient diagnostics (pilot).
  8. Learn and obtain tools, concepts, and datasets, useful for individual research projects*.


*Student research paper based on the previous TCGA camp materials:

  1. H. Kabat, L. Tunkle, and I. Lee. ceRNA Search Method Identified a MET-activated Subgroup Among EGFR DNA Amplified Lung Adenocarcinoma Patients. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing22, 438-448 (2017).


Databases, tools, and concepts for week 1
    1. PubMed Health
    2. OMIM
    3. GEO
    4. GEO2R
    5. String-db
    6. GO
    7. KEGG
    8. GeneCards
    9. PharmGKB
    10. AERSMines
    11. Microarray
    12. T-test
    13. Enrichment testing
    14. MicroRNA
Databases, tools, and concepts for week 2
    1. GDC
    2. TCGA
    3. R
    4. DESeq2
    5. Copy number variation
    6. RNAseq
    7. Pearson correlation
    8. Heatmap
    9. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering
    10. Random Forest

Typical daily activities

9:00 – 10:00 am check out what you know, games
10:00 – 11:00 am lectures covering specific aims, snacks
11:00 – noon hands-on activities in genomics
noon – 1:00 pm lunch
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm computer-based guided investigation in genomics, games
2:00 – 3:00 pm individual research on a disease using computational genomics, snacks
3:00 – 3:30 pm student presentations, games
3:30 – 4:00 pm collabotavie group research to share ideas together


Tentative career focus

Computational and experimental biologist (academic career)

Physician (medical)

Pharmaceutics/biotechnology (careers in industry)


Refund Policy

The $100 administrative fee will not be refunded once the camp application is accepted.

If a student withdraws, the camp fee paid minus the administrative fee will be refunded if we are notified by May 20, 2020.

If a student withdraws between May 21 and June 23, 2020, we will refund 50 percent of the camp fee paid.

No refund will be given after June 23, 2020.