Course at EMBL-EBI

Bioinformatics for discovery

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Created specifically for scientists working in a discovery environment, this course introduces bioinformatics as a science. The course aims to enable scientists to become more confident users of publically available data resources and analysis tools.

This course was developed by EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), with input from representatives of Bayer, GSK, Syngenta and Unilever and features tailored delivery methods and focused case studies.

Course delivery

The majority of the course will be delivered online, using a dedicated section of EMBL-EBI’s e-learning portal, Train online.  An initial face to face workshop at the beginning of the course will give trainees an opportunity to learn basic skills and concepts in bioinformatics, whilst also being provided with more detail on how to best work through the online elements, and network with others who will be studying alongside them. 

The majority of the course will be studied at a distance, by working through a series of online workflows.

Currently available workflows include:

  • Bioinformatics principles - The bioinformatics principles workflow introduces Bioinformatics as a science and shows you how easy it is to start using bioinformatics tools and resources without needing a computational background.


  • Chemical biology - The chemical biology workflow introduces resources which allow you to determine the "druggability" of a protein target and to explore potential chemical or small molecular interactions.


  • Exploring protein targets - This workflow will help you explore the wealth of information available on proteins and their potential as drug targets.


  • Transcriptomics - This workflow introduces the field of transcriptomics and discusses the technologies, processes, and challenges involved in running a transcriptomics experiment.


All trainees must complete the "Bioinformatics principles" workflow before moving on to workflows of their choice.  Each workflow has a short final assessment which must be passed to unlock the next workflow and only one workflow can be studied at one time.

Support mechanisms will be in place via discussion boards, virtual drop-in sessions and regular webinars throughout the module. The course will conclude with a wrap-up workshop in July 2019.

To complete the course trainees must complete at least three workflows and participate in the final workshop.

Who is this course for?

This course is aimed at bench biologists working in the area of discovery science who want to learn more about bioinformatics tools and resources. No prior knowledge of bioinformatics is required and no experience of programming or the use of Unix / Linux is necessary.

What will I learn?

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Apply concepts in experimental design to the practice of bioinformatics
  • Find and access a range of appropriate publicly available data resources and tools
  • Incorporate the use of appropriate bioinformatics resources into your work
  • Know where to gain further information and support


Mohamed Alibi
Alex Bateman
Melissa Burke
Denise Carvalho-Silva
Matthew Hall
Sarah Morgan
Livia Perfetto


Day 1 – Tuesday 22 January 2019
10:00-10:30 Tea and coffee upon arrival; Registration and welcome Melissa Burke & Sarah Morgan
10:30-11:00 Participant introductions All
11:00-12:00 Bioinformatics in practice Alex Bateman
12:00-12:30 Challenges and expectations All
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-14:00 Discussion All
14:00-14:30 Industry case study Matthew Hall
14:30-15:30 Data management and standards Melissa Burke & Sarah Morgan
15:30-16:00 Tea/coffee break  
16:00-17:00 Public data resources Sarah Morgan & Melissa Burke
17:00-17:30 Discussion All
17:30 End of day  
19:00 Dinner at the Wellcome Trust  
Day 2 – Wednesday 23 January 2019

Introduction to the module

  • Module content and completion
  • Best practice for study
  • Choice of module elements
Other sources of information
Sarah Morgan & Melissa Burke
10:30-11:00 Tea/coffee break  
11:00-12:00 Combining different data types – identifier mapping Livia Perfetto
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-14:30 Open Targets – Introduction and hands on session Denise Carvalho-Silva
14:30-15:00 Introductory computational skills - Command Line (optional) Mohamed Alibi
15:00-15:30 Tea/coffee break  
15:30 Close  

In order to be considered for a place on this course applicants must do the following:

1.Complete the online application form

2.Submit a WORD document to by Friday 16 November 2018, containing the following:

  • 200 word paragraph on your work history and biography
  • 100 word description of your current research interests

3.Provide a letter of support from a supervisor or a senior co-worker explaining why you should be selected for this course.

Further details will be provided on your confirmation email after completing the online form; incomplete applications will NOT be considered. Please read through the guidance document for more information on how to complete your application.

The course starts with a two-day workshop to be held at EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, Cambridge on the 22nd and 23rd January 2019. Total nominal study time is 100 hours (approx 12 days), and trainees will have a period of six months to complete the whole module.  There will be wrap-up workshop in July 2019.

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22 - 23 January 2019
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