Bioinformatics and Genomics sometimes (always?) brings together two very different groups: biologists and computer scientists. They are often biologists who know something about computers and computer scientists who know something about biology and sometimes they are computational biologists who do both. We (OpenHelix scientists) train biologists who want to use genomics tools that computational biologists (or a team of computer scientists and biologists) have developed. Sometimes those biologists want to do more and sometimes computer scientists need to learn a bit of biology. So, in that vein…
A lot of databases allow you to have direct query access to database. Most of these are also SQL databases. The UCSC Genome Browser is an example. Actually, in the Table Browser, it can come in handy allowing you to do some amazing stuff (or get burned). In fact, you can do it within a form based or freeform sql query. The form allows you to do a SQL query without actually knowing a tottle of SQL, but if you really want to get fancy, you can do your own query.
If you know SQL that is. Well, I was about to go find you some sites that will help you learn a bit of SQL so you can search those databases to get you that high-impact research article, but Sandra at “Discovering Biology in a Digital World” beat me to it. She suggests a few sites, two of which I really like. The first gives you a basic intro to SQL at W3Schools and the second gives you a great place to practice what you’ve learned, sqlzoo. Learn some, practice some and then do a Table Browser search (or well.. just do a Table Browser search using the form, then you’d never have to learn SQL :). Btw, the comments in the DBDW link above have an interesting discussion about what is and isn’t a programming language :D.
But if you are a computer scientist who needs some biology quickies? well, there is the ‘basic biology concepts‘ post a while back. Want to learn something about genetic conditions, how about this: OMIM or GeneTests ? With those you’ll need some understanding of genetics to really delve into them and they aren’t really ‘tutorials’, they are databases. Of course you could watch one the the Top Ten Videos about Genetic Conditions on YouTube. Or learn a bit more about specific genes at a bit more basic level at the Gene Wiki.