Bioinformatics: Training the Trainers

Categories: bioinformatics, Workshops
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Published on: April 9, 2013

My apologies for the GARNet radio silence over the last couple of weeks – we’ve been busy helping with PlantSci 2013 preparations as well as working on our own 2013 meetings (announcement of our September workshop coming soon!), going to a few external meetings, and enjoying that arctic Easter break too.

The week before Easter I went to an ELIXIR/GOBLET Training the Trainers workshop at TGAC (The Genome Analysis Centre). If you don’t know what ELIXIR or GOBLET are … don’t worry. They’re fairly new bodies and at the moment have quite a niche target market/audience, but they will be influencing bioinformatics and computational biology use and training over the next few years.

The ELIXIR project was FP7-funded in 2007 and aims to establish a sustainable European infrastructure for biological information. The infrastructure should eventually be a place for data storage, access, and analysis – for anyone who wants to use it in one of the member countries. Sixteen countries are participating, and each has a ‘node’ responsible for a different aspect of the project. ELIXIR-UK is based at the EBI in Cambridge, and is both the co-ordinating hub of the entire project and the training node.

GOBLET is the unusually straightforward acronym for Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education and Training. Its mission is essentially to support trainers and educators in bioinformatics and computational biology. ‘Training’ can be either a full-time job, or incorporated into another job. Their aims include establishing guidelines and standards for training, gather funding, and forming a networking and support hub where resources can be shared internationally.

The purpose of the meeting at TGAC was to thrash out how ELIXIR and TGAC would interact, and what the bioinformatics training community needs from them. My feeling from the group was that there is a need for credit for trainers, and standardising training materials where possible for easy sharing. You can see the minutes of the meeting on the GOBLET website.

If you do any bioinformatics training at all, I suggest you consider getting involved with GOBLET, which involves signing the Memorandum of Understanding, even if you are just interested in updates. It looks like they will be working on an accreditation system for trainers, and building a streamlined online space for advertising your training workshops and sharing training resources. ELIXIR is due to receive it funding for the ‘construction’ phase in autumn – I’ll keep you informed of its progress!

Image courtesy of TGAC, via Flickr

‘Training the Trainers’ participants at TGAC


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