The development of expertise in bioinformatics and genomics among future African scientists is key for finding solutions to local health problems. However such training and courses often rely on powerful and complex infrastructure. The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (SwissTPH) together with SIB's Training and sciCORE (Centre for Scientific Computing, University of Basel) Groups recently joined forces to create a flexible virtual education environment to support a bioinformatics course in South Africa.
A common impediment to advanced genomics education, especially in countries with limited high-performance infrastructures, is access to powerful computing systems and complex software workflows.
At the occasion of a joint bioinformatics course - conducted by members from the Tuberculosis Research Unit directed by Prof. Gagneux (SwissTPH) together with the University of Cape Town (South Africa) - SIB joined forces with SwissTPH to develop a SWITCH-hosted virtual education environment.
Based on cutting-edge container and cloud technologies, the solution provided a highly efficient and reusable environment to transfer scientific expertise and actionable know-how, thereby empowering the next generation of African scientists.
Held on 14-18 May, the course focused on the etiological agent of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, using data obtained from next-generation sequencing. Eighteen post-graduate students from several African countries attended.
This initiative was funded through the Swiss South African Joint Research Programme (SSAJRP) from the SNF and the grant awarded to Swiss TPH, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University (grant nr. IZLSZ3_170834).