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Genomics Aotearoa/NeSI training partnership goes from strength to strength 

Genomic Aotearoa’s approach to bioinformatics is one of research and upskilling. This project aims to upskill New Zealand’s biologists to analyse their own data through training opportunities, infrastructure, and building new tools and technologies into projects.

What we are doing

The Genomics Aotearoa/NeSI programme, developed by inaugural Training Coordinator Ngoni Faya working closely with Dini Senanayake at NeSI, has grown significantly, from offering general introductory bioinformatics courses and hands-on skill-building events, to courses tailored to individual organisations. The partnership now offers a full programme with topics to suit a range of researchers – from beginners to advanced.

NeSI and Genomics Aotearoa

The capability has grown from a few specialists to a community of genomics people. “It started with Dini and myself, and now we have an army of experts behind us, enabling us to reach the 1000 trainee milestone. Our training has developed into a one-stop-shop for those starting projects in genomic data analysis. They ask questions that either we can help with, or we can refer them to people who know the answers,” Ngoni said.

All these courses are free, and fully on-line training options have been developed.

Attendees range from students to bioinformatics practitioners, managers, and researchers. As well as coming from our partner organisations, we have hosted learners from the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, University of Melbourne, Auckland University of Technology, Unitec Institute of Technology, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, GNS Science, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Malaghan Institute, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Health, and the Cawthron Institute. 

Now under the direction of Training Coordinator Tyler McInnes, the programme will further expand to delivering customised software environments and data management services. 
At the same time Bioinformatics Trainer Jian Sheng Boey is helping to organise and share the workflows from bioinformatics researchers via Genomics Aotearoa’s GitHub site, making their pipelines and processes accessible for all. 

What we’ve achieved

The knowledge and techniques passed on has seen participants themselves become trainers. Industry organisations are growing capability in bioinformatics as a result. Many of these people have gone on to become Genomics Aotearoa Training Associates. 

Not only is this effort helping organisations, but many more students are also able to access free bioinformatics training. Having bioinformatics skills strengthens our future capability as students move into early-career research positions. The viability of bioinformatics as a career option could in turn encourage mathematics as a study option at high school level. 

The growth of bioinformatics capability within local research organisations is extending our capacity to use genomics to solve problems in health, the environment and primary production.

Read more about Bioinformatics capability here