SysMIC Maths and Computing for Biology Researchers: May 2021

SysMIC is an online course developed in association with the BBSRC to provide effective training for the bioscience community. It involves approximately 120 hours of study over six months and has a flexible format designed to fit around research commitments. It is suitable both for PhD students requiring initial training or established researchers looking to enhance and develop their skills portfolio.

The course was put together jointly by academics from UCL, Birkbeck, the Open University and University of Edinburgh and since 2012 over 2,500 researchers have studied with them.

Scroll to the bottom of this course description for a review by one of our DTP students, Rhys Woodfin. 

When?

Module 1 has start dates twice a year. 

Registration is now open for students wishing to start on Mon 10th May 2021.

The official deadline for enrolments is Friday 23rd April 2021, however, we can accept late applications if places are still available.

Where?

This is an on-line course.

Who is it for? 

This course is optional for DTP students, including iCASE and NPIF.  If you feel it would be useful for you then you are welcome to book or to make an initial enquiry with SysMIC to help you decide.  All year groups can apply but be aware of the length of the course and whether you will have the time to complete the modules you are interested in.  

Read the review below from one of our DTP students, Rhys Woodfin, to help you decide if the course is for you.  

Course content

The modules cover introductory and advanced techniques in maths and computing for use in interdisciplinary bioresearch.  Participants learn how to use MATLAB to model, simulate and analyse biological systems, and how to use R statistics package to analyse data.

There are 3 modules.  The course is flexible so you can undertake all 3 modules or complete only those that are appropriate to your own studies and future career aspirations.  Each module is taught over 6 – 10 months and requires around 5 hours of study per week.  See the SysMIC website for details of the modules: https://sysmic.ac.uk/

Each module is worth 360 points on the Royal Society of Biology CPD scheme.  These points can be used towards Chartered Biology status.

Downloads:

SysMIC_Key_Information flyer

SysMIC M1 Brochure

Videos:

Watch a brief overview of SysMIC here

See what students say about SysMIC here

Find out more at: https://sysmic.ac.uk 

Cost

The full cost is normally £1,500 per module.  However, DTP students can access this course for the discounted price of £850. This provides access to the core 6 month on line training module, with an option for students to continue to study our further module of advanced topics.

The cost covers full access to tutor support during your study, and continued access to the materials after you complete the course.

You can use your DTP RTSG allowance or you may be able to access alternative funding through your supervisor.

NB In order to qualify for the discounted rate, make it clear when you apply that you are a PGR with The White Rose BBSRC DTP.  SysMIC will ask the DTP Co-ordinator, Catherine Liddle (c.m.liddle@leeds.ac.uk), to corroborate this, so ensure that you copy Catherine into any communication with SysMIC so your application is not delayed. 

How to book

To find out more and to book, go to the SysMIC website: https://sysmic.ac.uk/ 

Contact

If you have any further queries once you have viewed the website, please contact Hannah Heaven at SysMIC – Email:  h.heaven@sysmic.ac.uk

Review by Rhys Woodfin

One of our DTP students, Rhys Woodfin, is currently undertaking the SysMIC course and has kindly agreed to provide a review of his experience so far.  He is also happy for anyone to contact him directly to ask questions.  Email: rw1139@york.ac.uk 

As a first year student in the White Rose Mechanistic Biology DTP programme I realised that I would like to increase my knowledge and competence in bioinformatics and statistical analysis. Though my research is very much lab-based, focusing on the glutathione-detoxification pathway in Arabidopsis, I believed that having a good grounding in programming languages would improve my efficiency in data analysis and modelling. I recently completed the first module of  the Sysmic course, Introduction in Quantitative skills for Bioscience, and over the first module have been introduced to two new programming languages, Python and Matlab, whilst also increasing my competency in R. The course is ideal for scientists with little to moderate knowledge of bioinformatics and statistics with there being an ample supply of reading sources, quizzes and examples to work through. I found these resources really solidified my  understanding and competency in the mathematical principles of bioinformatics. The ability to query problems on a forum, which tutors regularly checked, was another extremely helpful source of knowledge and feedback.

Each subsection of the module covers a different area of computational biology from modelling networks to statistical analysis. The  skills learnt are assessments at the end of each subsection by questions based on  real biological examples such as modelling metabolic networks, statistically analysing gene regulation and building a bioinformatic pipeline. There is also a final miniproject in which you can utilise the skills learnt throughout the module to investigate a real biological problem, I modelled the regulation of PFK-1 by Fru-26-P2 and ATP. The output of the mini project is a scientific report, I found this a useful introduction in how to present computational biology in a written format.

The one drawback of this course was that it focused heavily on Matlab with around a 1/5th of the workload being on R and Python. However, as most of the skills I learnt were transferable between languages this was not a significant negative.

Rhys Woodfin, White Rose BBSRC DTP