Edinburgh University programme to equip health and biosciences researchers with data skills

Health and biosciences researchers will be able to hone their data skills thanks to a collaboration between The Data Lab and the University of Edinburgh.

The organisations have joined forces to partner on a two-year programme for health and biosciences researchers in academia, industry and broader society to upskill and build their confidence when working with data.

The Ed-DaSH initiative, which forms part of UKRI Innovation Scholars: Data Science Training in Health and Bioscience, will contribute to the growing demand for individuals with data science skills and extend it to those working in health and bioscience research.

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The programme entails 41 workshops that run into 2023 and also cover data science skills to support “data-intensive” research.

Alison Meynert, principal investigator, Ed-DaSH.

Its roll-out follows a survey from the Medical Research Council and Institute of Genetics and Cancer last year which found that only one in five (21 per cent) of respondents rated their statistical skills as “good” or “very good”, and just under two thirds (64 per cent) felt there was a need for formal training.

Brian Hills, deputy chief executive at The Data Lab, said: “Data is ubiquitous. However, being able to make sense of it and apply it correctly can often be a hurdle for individuals, as is the case for many involved in the health and biosciences sectors.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly driven individuals and organisation to review their data skills and consider how they can better utilise data to benefit their work.”

Alison Meynert, principal investigator, Ed-DaSH, said: “It is often assumed that those working in health and biosciences will automatically understand how to make sense of and utilise data in their work. However, as we have seen from research, that’s not always the case.

“The programme enables learners to consider how they can use tools, like coding, to prove their hypotheses and may also allow participants to enhance, and potentially, extend new avenues of research.

“Since we launched the programme, we have received extremely positive feedback, with participants engaged with the process of continuous improvement.”

The programme is structured as a repeating series of workshops which has been made possible due to funding provided by the UKRI MRC Innovation Scholars initiative.

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