In collaboration with Wellcome Connecting Science (WCS), the COG-Train programme organised the “Equity in training and capacity building for genomics and global health” workshop, which was held as part of the 54th Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN54) meeting. The workshop highlighted the importance of training in genomics and discussed the myriad of challenges that arise from catering to a global audience, especially during a pandemic. It also pointed out steps that can be taken to help overcome these hurdles.
The workshop was developed by Dr Alice Matimba (WCS Head of Courses and Global Training), a champion in driving equitable solutions for genomics training and capacity building for global audiences. “Understanding the challenges faced by expert scientists in advancing genomics capacity is paramount to developing and tailoring training solutions in Asia”, states Alice. The workshop was kicked off by Dr Treasa Creavin (WCS Head of Conferences and Online Training), who provided an overview of WCS genomics training strategies and partnerships. Dr Liã Bárbara Arruda (Education Developer for COG-Train) shared information about the COG-Train online courses for genomics and bioinformatics of SARS-Cov-2, aimed at global audiences.
Dr Arporn Wangwiwatsin (Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University) followed on and provided background information on the training approaches followed by her institution, plus insights on the value of mentorship. Arporn also addressed some of the challenges to training, such as language barriers and potential solutions. “For international learners, we assigned teaching assistants who can easily switch between languages to sit next to students”.
Varun Shamanna (Senior Bioinformatician at Global Health Research Unit, Central Research Laboratory) discussed the obstacles of internet connectivity issues and the limited number of government agencies that provide training courses. “Less than 30% of people in Asia have internet connectivity. There is great value in implementing regional online courses taught in local languages”
Carlo Lapid (Senior Bioinformatics Specialist at the Core Facility for Bioinformatics, Philippine Genome Center) elaborated on the advantages and challenges of remote learning, and discussed the accessibility of remote training sessions. “Lack of information and funding, limits the ability to reach people from broader countries.”
Dr Geetha Nagaraj (Associate Professor at the Central Research Laboratory, Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences) addressed the importance of genomic surveillance and the challenges faced in delivering training. “Sustained funding, knowledge sharing between scientists and ‘train the trainer’ programmes are a few ways of mitigating the challenges that institutions face when providing courses for genomic surveillance”.
COG-Train is committed to continue working with organisations and trainers across the globe to help make genomics training more equitable and accessible for all.