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New Bioinformatics Course to Address Skills-Gap for Researchers, Students and Healthcare Professionals Worldwide

Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences (ACSC) today announces the launch of its first online course in Bioinformatics in partnership with FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform. The free online course will introduce the revolutionary tools of bioinformatics and shares how researchers probe the genomes of disease-causing bacteria such as MRSA and E. coli to discover what makes these microbes dangerous.

With the millions of bacterial and other genomes that are sequenced every year, vast amounts of data is being produced that needs to be analysed, explored and interpreted using bioinformatics. Due to this, there is a growing need for more trained bioinformaticians. 

The course ‘Bacterial Genomes: From DNA to protein function using bioinformatics’ was developed by researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Designed to teach researchers, students and healthcare professionals worldwide how to use online computational tools and databases to understand the roles bacterial genes play in health and disease, the course is free, and is open for enrolment now, with the course starting on June 11th 2018.

This 2-week introduction to bioinformatics is open to anyone to join, and no previous experience in bioinformatics is needed. As part of the Wellcome mission to be as accessible as possible worldwide, ACSC have sponsored this open access course to provide free enrolment and free certification. The course will take approximately 5 hours study time per week and learners can complete at their own pace. The course has gained approval for 10 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points, 1 CPD point per hour, from the UK Royal College of Pathologists. 

This course is designed to give a gentle introduction to the field, with all terms explained within the course, and hands-on experience to put the knowledge into practice. Especially important for researchers and healthcare professionals who are using genomic data, the course will teach participants how to access DNA data and explore DNA and protein sequences. It will also share how researchers use these tools to decipher the roles bacterial genes play in biology and disease. This is particularly appropriate for biology and computing students, whether at university, college or school – the course has been shown to help students and their teachers put their learning into context.

Dr Anna Protasio, researcher at the Wellcome Sanger Institute who co-designed the course, said:

“There is a great need to develop more bioinformatics skills and expertise throughout the world, and current training courses are oversubscribed.  This innovative, free two week course is a fabulous way for people to try it out, and dip their toes in the bioinformatics waters.”

Dr Pamela Black, the ACSC Education Lead, said:

“We have a passion for open access and equal opportunity here at the Wellcome Genome Campus. Bioinformatics is a growing area and this free online course opens bioinformatics up to anyone in the world who is interested. By learning how to use these online computational tools, people will be able to gain hands-on bioinformatics experience and learn how to explore the genome.”

Finola Lang, Senior Partnership Manager at FutureLearn, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Wellcome Genome Campus to be able to introduce bioinformatics to scientists, healthcare practitioners and sixth-formers alike.  This online course gives learners the opportunity to learn to use tools and technologies that they might never have encountered, from the convenience of their own computer, desktop or mobile.”  

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