Overcoming Translational Bottlenecks: Informatics Training Scheme 2019
28% of Wellcome-funded researchers at the University identitied the lack of informatics support and expertise within their group as one of the major hurdles slowing the progression of their research along the translational pathway. Similarly, in our recent University-wide translational research survey, 17% of researchers identified informatics expertise and support as a bottleneck in translational research.
In 2019 we launched the Informatics Training Scheme linked to the School of Biological Sciences and School of Health Sciences postgraduate taught (PGT) courses for the 2019/20 academic year. We awarded places to 25 participants, funding a total of 42 places on the PGT courses. The participants were a mix of academics and clinical academics, as well as PhD students and core research facility staff. Applicants were consulted individually to understand which of the units on offer through the scheme could provide them with the skills they needed to tackle their translational research hurdles.
At the end of the scheme feedback was collected from participants and course organisers. The feedback from the participants was very positive, affirming the value and importance of the scheme.
The majority of participants stated that the scheme has enabled them to analyse data for which they would have otherwise required expertise external to their research group. Some participants reported that the training received has increased the robustness of their data which will lead to stronger publications and grant applications, as well as progressing their research across the translational pathway.
Testimonials from participants:
‘Excellent introduction to Python programming…invaluable for me writing my own code in the…will accelerate my ongoing analysis…contributing towards a manuscript within the next 6 months’
‘Allowed me to learn in my own time at a distance…has helped with fellowship and grant applications …enabled me to be a second author on a meta-analysis’
‘Helped me to support many of the varied projects that come through the facility each year…being able to discuss good and poor experimental design with researchers, and identify the appropriate statistical analysis, is essential to help get relevant results back to researchers and progress their work along the translational pipeline’
This scheme is making a significant difference to translational researchers looking to build both capacity and capability in informatics in order to make the best use of their complex biological and patient datasets. We are particularly keen to see researchers undertake training early on in their translational research journey, so that they can embed their training into their future research. The availability of this scheme, tailored to the researcher’s individual needs through its modular nature, will accelerate the researcher’s progression along the translational research pathway. This will also lead to more impactful publications and will better position researchers to apply for, and be successful with, follow-on translational funding.