Connecting Science, Genome Research Limited

New online course introduces bioinformatics to address skills gap

The free course ‘Bacterial Genomes: From DNA to protein function using bioinformatics’ was developed by researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute

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 free course is a two-week introduction to bioinformatics that is open to anyone – no previous experience is needed. Designed by researchers including Dr Anna Protasio (right), all you need is an internet connection to take part. Image Credit: Connecting Science, Genome Research Limited

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 health care 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 11 June 2018.

This two-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 five 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.

“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 Anna Protasio Researcher at the Wellcome Sanger Institute who co-designed the course

“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.”

Dr Pamela Black The Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences Education Lead

“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.”

Finola Lang Senior Partnership Manager at FutureLearn

Watch the trailer for the course:

More information

More details about the course: Bacterial Genomes: From DNA to Protein Function Using Bioinformatics

Use bioinformatics to explore DNA sequences and protein functions, to find the determinants of virulence in microbes.

Join us in our quest to discover what makes microbes dangerous. Use bioinformatics to probe genomes, to explore and represent DNA and protein sequences. Then, use databases to find protein sequences’ conserved domains and investigate their functions.

The course will be of interest to, researchers, bioinformaticians, biomedical researchers, microbiologists, healthcare professionals, post-graduates, undergraduates, sixth-formers and all those who are interested in learning about DNA sequences and protein data, or how to use online analytical tools to probe genomes. Although the course has an emphasis on bacterial genomes, the tools covered in this course are applicable to the genomes of all organisms. The opportunity to use online computational tools in the context of bacterial genomes will also be of interest to teachers and their 16-18-year-old science and computing students.

You can sign up for the course here. This part-time, online course will run over two weeks and will take an average of five hours a week. It is open access, aimed at an introductory undergraduate level, and anyone with an interest can join.

No previous knowledge of bioinformatics is expected and the scientific terminology is explained.

Selected websites

  • Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences

    Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences is the only UK-based programme providing open postgraduate courses and conferences focused on biomedicine. Part of Connecting Science, we fund, develop and deliver training and conferences that span basic research, cutting-edge biomedicine and the application of genomics in healthcare. Working with internationally-renowned scientists and healthcare professionals, we run events at the Wellcome Genome Campus and in low- and middle-income countries that aim to educate, inspire, and transform careers.

  • Wellcome Genome Campus Connecting Science

    Wellcome Genome Campus Connecting Science’s mission is to enable everyone to explore genomic science and its impact on research, health and society. We connect researchers, health professionals and the wider public, creating opportunities and spaces to explore genomic science and its impact on people. Connecting Science inspires new thinking, sparks conversation, supports learning and measures attitudes, drawing on the ground-breaking research taking place on the Wellcome Genome Campus.

  • FutureLearn

    FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform formed in December 2012 by The Open University and is now the largest online learning platform in Europe with almost eight million people signed up worldwide. FutureLearn uses design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible online courses and postgraduate degrees that improve working lives. It partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and the New York Institute of Finance.

  • Wellcome Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Sanger Institute is one of the world’s leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease. To celebrate its 25th year in 2018, the Institute is sequencing 25 new genomes of species in the UK. Find out more at or follow @sangerinstitute

  • Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.