Data Visualisation for Biology: a practical workshop on design, techniques and tools


 Monday 11 Friday 15 March 2019


European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) - Training Room 2 - Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge,  CB10 1SD, United Kingdom

Application opens: 

Thursday 29 November 2018

Application deadline: 

Friday 11 January 2019


Open application with selection


Frank O’Donnell

Registration fee: 

£510 including accommodation


As biological datasets increase in size and complexity, we are moving more and more from an hypothesis-driven research paradigm to a data-driven one. As a result, exploration of that data has become even more crucial than in the past.

In this 5-day workshop, we will dive into the topic of biological data visualization and how it can be used to gain insight in and get a "feel" for a dataset, so that targeted analyses can be defined. We will start by covering theoretical questions like: What is data visualization? How do we perceive images? How can we visualise data in the best possible way? As the workshop continues, it will become more and more hands-on and interactive. In the workshop, we will focus on omics (e.g. genomics, transcriptomics) data rather than e.g. imaging data.

If you would like to see details of similar course from previous years, please take a look at our course listings, using the filter boxes to refine your search by year and subject.


This course is targeted at biologists who want to explore, and gain further insight, into their own data through the use of visualisation and design approaches. Some prior experience in programming would be beneficial, but pre-reading and exercises will be sent out to all successful applicants prior to the start of the course. Example datasets will be provided which include:

  • gene-gene interaction data
  • gene-disorder links
  • phylogeny of transcription factors
  • ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq

Syllabus, tools and resources

  • Textbook: "Making data visual" (D Fisher & M Meyer)
  • Recommended Textbook: "Visualization analysis and design" (T Munzner)


  • Explore theories of perception and cognition
  • Identify frameworks to comprehend data visualisation
  • Understand the concepts of visual design process
  • Implement visualisations with specific tools (D3)


Time Topic Trainer
Day 1 -  Monday 11 March 2019
10:00 - 10:30 Welcome and introduction  
10:30 - 12:30 Basics of data visualisation and visual analytics Jan Aerts
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch  
13:30 - 15:00 Basics of data visualisation and visual analytics Jan Aerts
15:00 - 15:30 Tea/coffee break  
15:30 - 17:00 Keynote  TBC
19:00 Evening meal    
Day 2 - Tuesday 12 March 2019
09:00 - 12:30 The visual design process Niki Karamanis
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch  
13:30 - 17:30 Data sketching Niki Karamanis
19:00 Evening meal   
Day 3 - Wednesday 13 March 2019
09:00 - 10:30 Implementing visualisations  TBC
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch  
13:30 - 17:30 Implementing visualisations  TBC
19:00 Evening meal    
Day 4 - Thursday 14 March 2019
09:00 - 12:30 Implementing visualisations  TBC
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch  
13:30 - 17:30 Implementing visualisations   TBC
19:00 Evening meal   
Day 5 - Friday 15 March 2019
09:00 - 10:30 Presentation and visual design on a dataset  All trainers
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch  
13:30 - 16:00 Presentation and visual design on a dataset All trainers
16:00 - 16:30 Course feedback and wrap up All trainers
16:30 End of course