New departure in bioinformatics education supports genome-enabled science
Press release issued: 15 May 2003
The growing international demand for experts in the emerging field of bioinformatics is being addressed through a new partnership between six leading UK universities supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC).
Research collaborations in biomedical science are increasingly international. The sequencing of the human genome - arguably the most ambitious collaborative scientific project ever undertaken - is a clear example.
Understanding the vast wealth of sequence information which this, and other, genome projects have unleashed is also a global problem and one which the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), an alliance of some of the world's best research universities, is ideally placed to address. In particular, there is a dearth of trained bioinformaticians who can interpret these vast datasets and work across international boundaries.
Now the MRC has backed a proposal from the WUN UK Bioinformatics Group (Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton and York) by awarding Priority Area PhD studentships to this consortium, with students having supervisors from at least two WUN partners.
The unique training offered by this 'virtual centre of excellence' in bioinformatics will draw on the complementary expertise across the WUN UK partners. As part of the highly successful WUN Global Exchange Programme, students will also spend up to six months overseas, working on an international research project with one of the WUN partners in the USA.
This year has also seen the launch of a WUN-based, on-line Masters Programme in Bioinformatics, with initial modules provided by Manchester and Leeds and additional modules being prepared by other WUN partners. It is envisaged that material provided by this Masters programme will form an integral part of the new PhD training programme.
Professor Len Hall of the University of Bristol said: "Bioinformatics is a relatively new subject which crosses several traditional disciplines in the physical and life sciences. Many more bioinformaticians need to be trained to fulfil the rapidly growing needs of academia and industry.
"The WUN Bioinformatics Group has therefore made training one of its key goals, and with the provision of both an on-line Masters programme and the establishment of collaborative PhD studentships, is poised to make a significant contribution to this important new workforce."
Dr David Westhead from the University of Leeds added: "For the research student, this is an excellent opportunity to get involve in internationally collaborative, cutting-edge research."