• University of Manchester logo

Clinical Bioinformatics: Unlocking Genomics in Healthcare

Learn about the role of clinical bioinformaticians in healthcare and how their work is helping to realise the genomics revolution.

24,913 enrolled on this course

Clinical Bioinformatics: a digital helix
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

This free online course aims to raise awareness amongst healthcare professionals of the role of Clinical Bioinformatics and Genomics in healthcare today. We will illustrate how the discipline of Clinical Bioinformatics provides an important bridge between the cutting edge science and the delivery of genomic medicine in clinical practice. By understanding the role of a Clinical Bioinformatician it will become clear how integral they are to ensuring the beneficial opportunities of genomic medicine are fully realised in patient care.

Discover the potential of Clinical Bioinformatics

This is an exciting time. We are now beginning to sequence whole genomes in the clinic, the most personal information we can have on a patient. We can start to see how genome variants might impact on health and we can direct really precise medicine to individual patients. This is not without its challenges. The genome is a huge amount of information. Identifying the causative variant (the part in the genome that can cause a change in health) is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But what does this phrase actually mean? This course will take you into the world of a Clinical Bioinformatician and show you what they do behind the scenes when finding that needle in the genomic data. It will also show you what happens next and the important contribution Clinical Bioinformatician’s make to the patient’s journey.

Explore the methods of Clinical Bioinformatics

Clinical Bioinformatics involves tools and technologies which require a certain set of skills and expertise. Using next generation sequencing techniques and data analysis allows the bioinformatician to filter and classify the information from the human genome. The course will bring these methods and processes to life using case studies, interviews with bioinformaticians and a host of activities to help you understand the basics of Clinical Bioinformatics.

Investigate the role of Clinical Bioinformatics in healthcare

The role of clinical bioinformatics can be seen as providing a link between computer science and biology and so involves tools and technologies which require specific skills and expertise. Using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques and data analysis bioinformaticians and clinical scientists can identify, filter and classify variants found in the human genome linked with genetic disease. This course will bring these methods and processes to life using case studies, interviews with bioinformaticians and a host of activities to help you understand the role and its importance in genomic healthcare. You will also be able to see the benefits and the challenges to clinical bioinformatics in regards to wider ethical issues like those relating to data management - we’ll be asking questions about how patient data is stored and who has access to it.

Continuing Professional Development

On this course you there is an opportunity to purchase a Statement of Participation that will provide both a physical and digital record of your participation. You might find this useful for demonstrating evidence of informal Continuing Professional Development (CPD), commitment to your career, or of your awareness of the issues in a particular subject.

Download video: standard or HD


  • Week 1

    Clinical Bioinformatics and Genomics

    • Transforming patient care

      At the start of this week we will cover learning objectives, introduce your educators and provide help on the platform so you are comfortable moving around the course and know where you can access any further support

    • Ending the Diagnostic Odyssey

      In this activity you will explore a Congenital Cataract case study to show how genomic medicine has impacted on a patients diagnosis, care and or treatment.

    • Clinical Bioinformatics in practice

      This final part of week one brings the role to life and meet two of the bioinformaticians at Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine as well as a PhD student who bring their own perspectives on the role in practice.

  • Week 2

    Data & Diagnosis

    • Assembling the data

      Last week we looked at some of the background to the human genome project and how it is making a real impact in patient care. This week we will be going a bit deeper into this problem and explore a clinical bioinformatician's role

    • Managing the variants

      In this activity we will focus on triaging the variants and managing the data

    • Reporting the data

      This activity will explore the last part of the process which is communicating the results back to the clinician.

  • Week 3

    Tools and Workflow

    • Working with the genome

      This activity will introduce the tools and techniques needed whilst working through the workflow.

    • Filtering the VCF file

      In this activity we will look at the process of refining and reducing the variants in the VCF file.

    • Putting it into Practice

      This activity includes a demonstration of some key software and pulls all the steps we've covered this week into a single step

  • Week 4

    Data and Ethics

    • Ethical and legal considerations in Bioinformatics and Genomics

      In this activity we will consider some of the ethical and legal issues raised by working with genomic data

    • Ethics in Practice

      This activity looks at how genomic data is stored and how this relates to the principles of data storage in a clinical setting.

    • Applying Ethical Approaches

      This activity will focus on approaches you can take when faced with ethical implications of genomic data

  • Week 5

    Case Studies

    • Returning to the clinical setting

      This activity will see us return to St Mary's hospital and the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine as we focus on the bioinformatician's role in practice.

    • Introducing the case study

      This activity will introduce the case study and also provide more insight to the bioinformatician's role

    • Standards and Best Practice

      In this activity you will see how important standardisation of processes and knowledge sharing across the clinical bioinformatics community is essential to ensuring selection and interpretation of clinically relevant variants.

    • Where can I learn more?

      This activity brings together links, support and information to help you go further on your learning journey on Clinical Bioinformatics

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the role of a Clinical Bioinformatician in making a difference in the patient’s journey
  • Explain how Clinical Bioinformatics provides an important bridge between the cutting edge research of Genomic Medicine with the practicalities and sensitivities of a clinical setting
  • Identify the types of tools and technologies a clinical bioinformatician uses to filter and classify the information from the human genome
  • Explore the stages of the clinical bioinformatics workflow
  • Apply knowledge of clinical bioinformatics to clinical case studies
  • Explain the ethical and legal considerations that need to be made when working with genomic data
  • Investigate the typical daily challenges of developing bioinformatics to support the genomic revolution in healthcare

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at current healthcare professionals, who are interested in learning more about the role of clinical bioinformatics and will also be applicable to people with an interest in the application of genomics in healthcare.

It is not essential to have previous experience or knowledge of bioinformatics or genomics although medical terminology is used and the course is designed to be applicable to practising healthcare professionals.

What do people say about this course?

"The course was both challenging and enjoyable, and provided a concise insight into the current state of bioinformatics in the NHS. The challenges going forward are immense not least processing, securing and storing patient data as genomics becomes the norm, in clinical practice."

Who will you learn with?

Ang Davies is a Professor of Clinical Bioinformatics and Healthcare Science Education at The University of Manchester with experience of developing and leading programmes in these areas

A professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Manchester who has been excited about AI, data science and interdisciplinary education in bioinformatics for over 20 years.

I have been teaching bioethics at the University of Manchester for 26 years. I run a distance learning MA/LLM in Healthcare Ethics and Law and provide online CPD courses in this area.

Who developed the course?

The University of Manchester

From splitting the atom to giving the world graphene, The University of Manchester has a history of world firsts and brilliant discoveries.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLbioinformatics to talk about this course on social media.