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Over the last four years the OBDS training programme has trained over 50 D. Phil. students, post-doctoral scientists and clinical fellows. Here's what they say about us...

Dr Bethan Psaila, Cancer Research UK Advanced Clinician Scientist

beth_psaila.pngI was very grateful for the BRC-funded place on the OBDS training course. I am a clinician scientist towards the end of my postdoctoral training and hope to soon start an independent research group. My postdoctoral work has been focused on single-cell transcriptomics, and prior to the course I had some familiarity with bioinformatics having processed my own single-cell and bulk RNAseq datasets using established pipelines but no experience of programming in Python and only basic skills in using Linux command line. The opportunity to have a 6-week period of formal training greatly increased my awareness and understanding of available computational methods, and gave me new insights into how to approach my own data analysis. I am now working closely with a group in the MRC WIMM Centre for Computational Biology, and co-supervising a postdoctoral bioinformatician. The training I received has helped me interact with computational colleagues on a different level, and will be invaluable for my future career progression as well as scientific productivity.


Dr Zahra Aboukhalil, Big Data Analyst at Novo Nordisk

zahra_aboukhalil.jpegI attended the pilot scheme for the OBDS during my time as a DPhil student at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.  My background was in biochemistry and lab-based research, having completed my BSc in Biochemistry and an MRes in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at Imperial College London. I completed my DPhil in the lab of Prof Paresh Vyas, where my research focussed on both normal human haematopoiesis and its dysregulation in acute myeloid leukaemia. To further understand these systems, we carried out extensive RNA-sequencing analysis. It was through these experiments that I discovered both the importance and my interest in bioinformatic analysis.

Prior to joining OBDS, I had only minimal experience in computing or bioinformatics. I had attended several training courses both in Oxford and Cambridge and had utilised training material available online. I was interested in the OBDS programme because it offered several weeks of full-time training with the support of experienced bioinformaticians. During my time on the course I was able to focus on developing my bioinformatic and computational skills. I found the support offered by OBDS, and working with experienced bioinformaticians, to be key in developing my skills. Additionally, the training material, lectures and existing code/pipelines were valuable resources that supplemented my analysis and training. As a result of my training with CGAT, I was able to finalise my analysis of two RNA-sequencing datasets, one of which is now published in Nature Immunology.

This experience motivated me to further pursue my interest in the computational analysis of biological data. I am currently working as a Big Data Analyst Graduate in the Data Science department at Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen. Here, our focus is the use of advanced analytical techniques, such as machine learning, on real world data. I am now able to apply the skills I learnt on the course to new types of data and methods of analysis. I would recommend the OBDS training programme to those who wish to dedicate time to developing their bioinformatics skills, and especially to those who are considering pursuing bioinformatics as a potential career.


Dr Peter Kilfeather, Director at Oxford Omics

Peter KilfeatherThe OBDS training programme was instrumental in my professional development as a bioinformatician. It is a tremendous opportunity to learn cutting edge analytical methods from the experts and I strongly recommend it to anyone looking for bioinformatics training.

The structure and format of the course is engaging and practical, with daily opportunities to practise each method and ask questions. There is ample room for exploration around each topic, to tailor it to your own research questions. The trainers are knowledgable and patient; offering valuable advice on the do’s and don’ts for each technology. A broad range of methods and environments are covered, so that for future problems you can select the most appropriate approach.
I came to the course with some experience of following online tutorials and vignettes in R, but I had no grasp of whether what I had been doing was correct. The OBDS training helped set my direction and provided a framework for organising my future analyses.
The course gave me the confidence to pursue bioinformatics as a full-time occupation and I now direct Oxford Omics; a contract bioinformatics research company (