Cancer Researchers bring Ensembl to London

Monday morning in London: hustle and bustle of the start of the working week.
Packed trains and tube. Huge crowds on their customary way to work.


Congestion on the London underground.

I too (armed with my laptop, a course booklet and a pen) was on my way to London to deliver training in Ensembl.

Aida Santaolalla and Anita Grigoriadis organised this Ensembl browser workshop for the cancer research community at Guy’s hospital, a large NHS hospital with breathtaking views of the River Thames.

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View of London from Guy’s hospital.

We had 18 participants with mixed professional roles within the hospital: postdocs, PhD students, staff researchers, principal investigators, and a physician. All had one research theme in mind: cancer.

Cancer is a broad range of diseases characterised by unregulated cell growth due to varied and complex causes, one of them being genetic predisposition. During the workshop, I demonstrated, among other things, how Ensembl could be used to find out genes and variants (i.e. SNPs, CNVs and indels) that may confer such genetic predisposition. The location of variants that are associated with breast cancer, for instance, can be seen in Ensembl.

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Among the attendees, 40% were completely new to Ensembl and a whopping 80% had never used Ensembl BioMart before. The comments received in my feedback survey were very rewarding: ‘This was a very good workshop where I learned the basics of Ensembl software’, ‘This workshop was particularly useful in pointing out tools in Ensembl that I wouldn’t have known existed through personal investigation.’ And better still, every single participant indicated they would use Ensembl and Ensembl BioMart more often after this workshop, and they would recommend the workshop to a colleague.

Ensembl workshop delivered. Happy participants. Great feedback. Job done.
The day was far from over though. I still had to make my way out of the city.

Monday evening in London: hustle and bustle of the end of the first day of the working week. Packed trains and tube: huge crowds on their customary way home.

Can’t deny I was chuffed to bits to go back to the HQs of Ensembl in the quiet, tranquil Cambridgeshire.

Now I’m ready for my next adventure: University of Pavia, Italy.
Maybe I will come to your institute one day.

If you want to organise a training session in Ensembl, you can follow the steps of our hostesses at Guy’s, who contacted us to organise this successful Ensembl workshop in London for the cancer research community.