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New free course aims to help nurses understand how genomics can battle bacteria

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A new free course has been launched to help nurses and other health professionals to understand how genomics can battle bacteria diseases.

Under the initiative, nurses will be able to take a free three-week online course introducing the genomics of disease-causing bacteria, such as MRSA, E. coli and Chlamydia.

“There is a gap in the understanding of pathogen genomics amongst healthcare professionals”

Estee Torok

It is designed to educate health professionals and biologists on how the genomes of bacteria can be used to understand, identify and track bacterial diseases and antibiotic resistance.

The course will take approximately three hours study time per week and learners can complete at their own pace, according to those behind it.

It is the result of a partnership between Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences and social learning platform FutureLearn.

They noted that humans had been plagued by bacterial diseases throughout history, citing the example of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, which killed 1.3 million people across the world last year.

Such bacterial diseases are made more dangerous by the rise of antibiotic resistance, which is one of the greatest threats to human health worldwide, they warned.

As a result, the course will teach participants how sequencing the DNA of bacteria offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand bacterial diseases, their spread and their resistance to drugs.

The course – called Bacterial Genomes: Disease Outbreaks and Antimicrobial Resistance – was also developed in collaboration with the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge.

“We have specifically designed this course to help people understand how genomics can be used to fight these bacterial pathogens”

Adam Reid

Dr Estee Torok, an honorary consultant physician at Addenbrooke’s hospital and researcher at Cambridge University, is featured in the course

She said. “There is a gap in the understanding of pathogen genomics amongst healthcare professionals in the NHS and abroad, despite the importance of genomics in tracking the spread of bacterial diseases and antibiotic resistance.

“This innovative, free three-week course is a great way for our medical and nursing colleagues to get up to speed on this quickly,” she said.

Dr Adam Reid, senior staff scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute who co-designed the course, added: “Thanks to scientific advances we have powerful tools like antibiotics to combat devastating bacterial diseases such as cholera and TB.

“However, outbreaks continue to happen and genomic science is a vital new weapon against them,” he said. “We have specifically designed this course with ACSC to help people understand how genomics can be used to fight these bacterial pathogens.”

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