Genomics Master’s series: be part of a medical revolution

Brad Horn, one of our funded Master’s students, tells us why there has never been a better time to learn about genomics

I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2013 with a degree in Genetics and started my career as a Genetic Technologist at the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital – so why did I decide to study a master’s degree in Genomics when already working in the field?

I guess it’s due to the wide range of modules on offer and the opportunity to be taught by leading professionals working in this area of healthcare. It’s a way of me learning much more about genomics as a whole and the advances that are being made in the discipline, rather than just accumulating knowledge in areas that I am currently experienced in. I have always had a passion for genetics, so this course was perfect for me! I am studying at the University of Manchester and I have currently completed five modules on Bioinformatics, Human Genetics, Pharmacogenomics, Genetic Counselling and Omics techniques and their application to genomic medicine.  I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed all of these –  they have opened my eyes to the potential transformation of healthcare in the NHS through genomic medicine.

Teaching and assessment

Each module usually has a full week of teaching, which is great as it allows you to really engage in the subject. Basic concepts given early on are often expanded using relevant clinical examples as the week progresses. This helps consolidate knowledge and understanding but also demonstrates how the content being taught is used in clinical practice.

Most of the modules have a mix of class-based learning with some distance learning, which I find works really well. I enjoy having the block teaching and then the opportunity to develop my knowledge in my own time. All of the key dates relating to the course are given to us well in advance, which gives us time to prepare and book time off work when needed. There is a range of assessment methods depending on the module. Some may be assessed by completing assignments or presentations, whereas others may require you to sit an exam.

Multi-disciplinary learning

Here at Manchester, we are a very diverse group of students from many different disciplines. We have Clinical Scientists, Paediatricians, GPs, Nurses and even Consultant Geneticists. As a result, everybody brings different expertise, experiences and outlooks to lectures, giving you the opportunity to view things from an alternative perspective and learn from each other. All of the modules so far have allowed us to experience multi-disciplinary learning with content being delivered from Consultant Geneticists, Professors in Genetic research, Genetic Counsellors and Clinical Bioinformaticians.

Personally, I chose to study the full MSc as it will enable me to transition into different sections of the laboratory at work and become equipped with the scientific knowledge that is needed for me to perform in that role. I will also be more attractive as a candidate for Clinical Scientist Training Programmes, for further research or for careers in the private pharmaceutical and diagnostic sectors.

Be part of a medical revolution

It’s clear to see how the introduction of genomics and next generation sequencing into the wider NHS will revolutionise medical treatment, especially with efforts such as the 100,000 Genomes Project, aiming to give patients a diagnosis when there hasn’t been one previously. We will be able to offer people the correct drugs that work for them and avoid the ones that don’t (personalised medicine). More causes of rare diseases and cancers will be established and more targeted treatments will ultimately become available.

The level of understanding that we have of the human body is remarkable, however there is still so much that we don’t know. The Genomics Education Programme is offering opportunities for NHS staff to bridge this gap and develop their skills, knowledge and expertise to produce a world class healthcare service underpinned by genomics. Courses like this will be essential in transforming wider services to integrate genomics and it’s something you could be part of!

Bradley Horn is a Genetic Technologist at the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital. He is happy to be contacted here.

Are you interested in applying for a funded place on the HEE Master’s programme in Genomics Medicine? Click here to find out more!