Ensembl browser and REST API workshops - Roslin Institute


 Tuesday 27 Wednesday 28 August 2019


The Roslin Institute - The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian,  EH25 9RG, United Kingdom

Application opens: 

Friday 19 July 2019

Application deadline: 

Friday 23 August 2019


First come, first served


Lel Eory

Registration fee: 


Registration closed

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Course Overview

The Ensembl project at www.ensembl.org provides a comprehensive and integrated source of annotation of mainly vertebrate genome sequences. This 1-day workshop offers participants the possibility of gaining hands-on experience in the use of the Ensembl genome browser but also provides them with the necessary background information. Our sister project at www.ensemblgenomes.org can also be covered if participants are working with bacteria, plants, fungi, protists or (invertebrate) metazoa.

The browser workshop is primarily targeted at wetlab researchers, and we customise the course for species of interest and to include total beginners to our browser up through frequent users. 

The REST API workshop is aimed at researchers and developers interested in exploring Ensembl beyond the website. The workshop covers how to use the Ensembl REST APIs, including understanding the major endpoints and how to write Python/Perl/R scripts to call them.

Feedback from previous courses: "There are probably quite few people out there who all assume that Ensembl today is the same as it was years ago. It is not. With many new features and datasets incorporated/interlinked, it offers data exploration like never before. This course was a very useful update on what Ensembl has become" Browser workshop, CRUK, April 2016

"Very useful workshop, certainly one of the most informative and useful I have attended. Delivered by someone who was extremely familiar with the website and its capabilities, not someone who had used it a couple of times and proclaimed themselves to be an expert." Browser workshop, Cardiff, March 2014

If you think you'd like to host a similar course at your institute, you can find out more on the Ensembl workshops page.


The browser course on 27th August is aimed at wet-lab researchers and bioinformaticians.

The optional REST API course on the 28th August is aimed at bioinformaticians and wet-lab biologists who can program in Perl, Python or R and have attended the browser course.

Learning outcomes

After the browser course, participants should be able to:

  • view genomic regions and manipulate the view to add features they are interested in.
  • explore information about genes and their sequences, and gene data in bulk using BioMart.
  • analyse genomic variants and associated phenotypes and their own variation data using the VEP.
  • view homologous genes and genomic regions, functional elements involved in gene regulation and their activity in different cell types.

After the REST API course 

participants should be able to:

  • Synthesise the data types accessible through the Ensembl REST API
  • Understand the methods in the Ensembl REST API
  • Navigate the Ensembl REST API documentation to find available methods
  • Write Python/R/Perl scripts to access data via the Ensembl REST API


Day 1:

Morning: Introduction to Ensembl and Ensembl genes. Viewing genes and locations in the browser. Data export with BioMart.

Afternoon: The afternoon sessions depend on the participants' interest. We can cover genetic variation, comparative genomics and gene regulation, depending on what you express an interest in when you register.

Day 2:

09:30-10:00    Overview of the Ensembl REST API
10:00-11:00    Accessing GET queries with the Ensembl REST API
11:00-11:20    Tea/Coffee Break    
11:20-12:30    Decoding json and chaining REST queries together
12:30-13.15    Lunch
13:15-14:30    Accessing POST queries with the Ensembl REST API
14:30-15:00    Rate limiting