Additionally, during the academic part course work of the programme, students are already exposed to state-of-the-art research, taught by active researchers. In this way, we want to ensure that our students remain as up-to-date with the latest developments as possible. We note that in the developing community of computational biology education, there seems to be the need to foster a culture of publishing about our education programmes.
In addition to publishing about education programmes to support an exchange of best practices, we should also explicitly aim for citing each other comprehensively. For example, the papers in the Briefings in Bioinformatics BiB special issue on education, are read about three times per month, but the number of shares is only three per year and citations on average are only about once per year; note the large discrepancy with the BiB impact factor, which has been between five and nine in the same period.
A different issue is the publication of comprehensive textbooks. The current practice of contributing book chapters leaves something to be desired. As an alternative that may also increase overall quality Bourne, , PLoS Computational Biology launched a first open book, on Translational Bioinformatics with an introduction by Russ Altman Altman, Chapters have been individually reviewed and are indexed and citable e.
Altman, The papers on education programmes we have been able to trace see above all mention organizational difficulties typical to cross-disciplinary education, and the challenge of dealing with diverse student backgrounds. However, they do not allow detailed insight into organizational matters. Nonetheless, although in line with what we argue in this paper, a few further observations are noteworthy: Sahinidis et al. They emphasize the integration of teaching and research, and translation between the two, albeit they offer little concrete advice on how to achieve this.
They hence focus explicitly on translation , also by fostering collaboration between students. Several other papers describe the implementation of bioinformatics courses in life science programmes Cummings and Temple, ; Stefan et al. Here, also keeping up with the fast-paced development of methods in the areas of BioSB is mentioned as a general challenge. Teaching a dynamic, multidisciplinary topic like bioinformatics, systems biology or data science, requires continuous translation between methods and problems, between algorithms and application. Translation can only be achieved by providing sufficient depth and focus in key areas of the multidisciplinary field itself, coupled with a balanced foundation and contribution from the adjacent disciplines.
In summary, for a successful programme in bioinformatics, systems biology or data science, one needs: Focus, balance and translation which are crucial and should each be in place from the start of the programme,. To teach students to translate their knowledge and skills to other disciplines and also to future developments within the disciplines.
From these essential ingredients, a nurturing and stimulating learning environment may develop, which will yield highly motivated graduates who are able to exploit their skills and knowledge in a demanding and dynamic working and research environment. From the experiences in our broad BioSB programme, we hope that these recommendations will be instructive to organizers of computational biology programmes, including BioSB, and may also be useful in a wide range of life science and data sciences programmes.
We thank all the teaching assistants for offering their support in our busiest courses. We also would like to thank our education committee, in particular Rob van Spanning, and also the various student members who have been instrumental in shaping up the curriculum of our MSc programme throughout the years. Finally, we thank all our former and current students for their enthusiasm, dedication and trust.
Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. Training for translation between disciplines: a philosophy for life and data sciences curricula K Anton Feenstra. To whom correspondence should be addressed. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Sanne Abeln.
Johan A Westerhuis. Filipe Brancos dos Santos. Douwe Molenaar. Bas Teusink. Huub C J Hoefsloot. Jaap Heringa. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Abstract Motivation. Open in new tab Download slide. Both a solid academic basis as well as specialist knowledge and understanding in the field of bioinformatics and systems biology Focus: 2. Acquired profound knowledge, insight and practical experience in at least one specialist area of bioinformatics or systems biology 3.
Specialist knowledge in one or more sub-areas of bioinformatics and systems biology, quantitative life sciences and related fields such as biophysics, biochemistry, mathematical modelling and cell biology 5. The ability to independently set up and implement experiments contributing to a line of research 6. The skills to present research plans and results orally or written in English, at various scales and levels of abstraction, and communicate these to specialist and non-specialist audiences 8. The ability to access and use international professional literature and to master current scientific research developments and knowledge of current scientific developments within relevant subdomains of bioinformatics and systems biology The ability to get acquainted with a field of study and acquire specialist knowledge, understanding and skills in a short period of time A view of the applications of bioinformatics and systems biology in general and specific specializations in particular and is able to apply this knowledge in new and continuously changing practical situations, also in broader, multidisciplinary contexts The ability to successfully fulfil a position in society requiring an academic qualification as an independently operating professional that has a good knowledge base and attitude towards a biological approach to relevant societal issues Bioinformatics and systems biology: bridging the gap between heterogeneous student backgrounds.
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