Pan African Bioinformatics Network for H3Africa

H3ABioNet Training and Education

There is a need in Africa to increase the number of qualified bioinformatics graduates and to ensure that the content and quality of their training is appropriate. It is equally important to create research opportunities and financial support for promising newly-graduated students to retain them in Africa, as well as to attract Africans studying abroad back to the continent. The bioinformatics network will provide a handful of Masters and PhD level bursaries for postgraduate degrees in Bioinformatics; as well as curriculum development for a standardised, Africa-wide Masters course program.

H3ABioNet training activities will use a multi-faceted approach that addresses bioinformatics training for all sectors of the research community:

  • Graduate training will ensure that new specialist bioinformatics students receive a comprehensive, well-structured, standardized training as they enter the field of bioinformatics, and that they have access to high quality research training at the Master’s and PhD levels.
  • Regular workshops will be organised to train clinical and genetics researchers in bioinformatics applications for topics identified through the H3Africa funded projects.
  • Internship-based training will be used to enable H3Africa researchers to spend time in a bioinformatics laboratory at one of the network nodes in Africa. This is to provide an interdisciplinary foundation in applications of bioinformatics and genomics tools for research. The framework includes short term sojourns at one or more different H3ABioNet nodes aimed at the acquisition of specific bioinformatics skills.
  • Varying levels of computing education and training will target bioinformaticians, researchers, and technical staff. Courses will be offered in systems administration and hardware management to ensure effective functioning of full/associate node infrastructures, as well as in computing technologies such as Cloud, HPC, etc. This will introduce or enhance technical skills within network and project sites.

Efforts will also focus on developing a cadre of committed H3ABioNet Trainers to support the nodes and H3Africa projects. While training will be on specific bioinformatics topics, the underlying themes will address the H3Africa topics, including genetic/environmental contributors to communicable and non-communicable disease, contribution of the human microbiome to health and disease, Mendelian diseases and pharmacogenomics. Emphasis will be placed on specific bioinformatics knowledge and skills a researcher needs to conduct this kind of research, which will be more productive than learning a collection of tools without a driving biological problem.