Using a multiple-delivery-mode training approach to develop local capacity and infrastructure for advanced bioinformatics in Africa
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With more microbiome studies being conducted by African-based research groups, there is an increasing demand for knowledge and skills in the design and analysis of microbiome studies and data. However, high-quality bioinformatics courses are often impeded by differences in computational environments, complicated software stacks, numerous dependencies, and versions of bioinformatics tools along with a lack of local computational infrastructure and expertise. To address this, H3ABioNet developed a 16S rRNA Microbiome Intermediate Bioinformatics Training course, extending its remote classroom model. The course was developed alongside experienced microbiome researchers, bioinformaticians, and systems administrators, who identified key topics to address. Development of containerised workflows has previously been undertaken by H3ABioNet, and Singularity containers were used here to enable the deployment of a standard replicable software stack across different hosting sites. The pilot ran successfully in 2019 across 23 sites registered in 11 African countries, with more than 200 participants formally enrolled and 106 volunteer staff for onsite support.