Training in low-middle income countries

Map of low-middle income countries, according to the OECD

We’re excited to announce that we have received a grant from the Wellcome Trust to deliver Ensembl training in low-middle income countries at no charge.

We know that there’s a real need for training in low-middle income countries. A quick glance at data available in the GWAS catalog and gnomAD show that non-European ethnicities are under-represented in studies of genetic variation and disease, and limited amounts are known about genetic diseases that are only found in non-European populations. Research on tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue and schistosomiasis is lead by those living in communities where these diseases are a problem, thus ensuring that any treatments or preventative measures trialled are actually practical in those communities. Meanwhile crops that can survive and give high yield even when faced with drought and disease are critically important worldwide. We believe that bioinformatics training can empower researchers in low-middle income countries to more effectively tackle these and many other problems.

Ensembl workshops have been available since the project began, but we’ve always asked our hosts to pay for the expenses (travel, accommodation and subsistence) of the trip. For many institutions, this is completely fine as evidenced by our roughly 100 workshops every year, but whenever we’ve spoken to hosts in low-middle income countries, they’ve always been reluctant to take it further – we assume that the cost is the problem. We have travelled to low-middle income countries for training before, but these have always been funded by external sources, rarely, if ever, by the host.

We’re excited to make a change, and now have some money that we can spend on delivering workshops in low-middle income countries. We still need our hosts to organise logistics at the other end, but we can come to them without charging a penny. As well as our standard Ensembl browser and Ensembl REST API courses, we’re also offering Train the Trainer courses to hosts. We hope that this will help to build bioinformatics capacity and infrastructure, as it will allow hosts to continue to offer Ensembl training courses internally, even if we don’t come back ourselves. We’re also looking to have as much reach as we can with limited funds, tagging the training onto conferences or holding a series of workshops in a country or region in a single trip.

If you’d like to invite us to deliver a workshop, regardless of where in the world you are, please get in touch.