introducing the Genomics Training Academy

Inside GTAC, the Genomics Training Academy

The new online educational hub will support the specialist genomics workforce across the UK

The Genomics Training Academy (GTAC) is a national initiative led by NHS England’s Genomics Education Programme (GEP) and Genomics Unit. 

The academy has been set up to provide training and education to the specialist genomics laboratory and clinical workforce, including bioinformaticians, clinical geneticists, clinical scientists, genetic counsellors and genetic technologists. 

Here, we’ll cover some of the progress we’ve made to date with the GTAC, and what to expect over the coming weeks and months. 

How training will be delivered

The GTAC will follow a ‘hub and spoke’ model. The central, virtual education hub will be supported by in-person, hands-on training at regional ‘spokes’ in NHS Genomic Laboratory Hubs and/or clinical genetics services.  

The GTAC’s virtual hub is designed to offer a range of learning levels and formats, including online courses, immersive learning and virtual reality, and live webinars and workshops.  

Behind the scenes

Since the announcement of plans for the GTAC, the GEP has been recruiting and onboarding an operations team and teaching faculty, comprising professional leads and education specialists. We are also seeking working group members across the five areas of practice. (You can view the GTAC’s governance structure here.)

The GTAC’s operations team has been establishing project frameworks and guidance to support the teaching faculty, while designing and testing the virtual learning environment, Bridge, which will host online learning and a live training calendar. Course development is already underway (see below). 

Meanwhile, the GTAC’s professional leads and education specialists have undertaken a detailed scoping exercise to identify areas of highpriority learning need and are now creating a roadmap for education development.

Meet the GTAC faculty

The academy is led by GEP clinical director Professor Kate Tatton-Brown and supported by the GEP’s education, editorial and project teams as well as practice educators across the Genomic Medicine Service 

To ensure the development of high-quality and fit-for-purpose education and training tailored to each practice area, we are delighted to be joined by: 

  • Bioinformatics: Sanjeev Bhaskar, professional lead; 
  • Clinical genetics: Dr Alex Murray, professional lead; Dr Olga Tsoulaki, education specialist; Dr Rhian Thomas, education specialist;  
  • Genetic counselling: Dr Laura Boyes, professional lead; Heidy Brandon, education specialist; 
  • Laboratory: Jennie Bell, professional lead; Alison Taylor-Beadling, education specialist for lab reporting; Sarah Collier, education specialist for lab technologies; Jennifer Glauert (maternity cover for Sarah Collier); and 
  • Technology-enhanced learning: Dr Terri McVeigh, professional lead. 

Upcoming GTAC courses

While the groundwork to set up the GTAC has been significant, the GEP has also been developing a number of educational initiatives to meet previously identified areas of learning need 

Over the coming months, the following GTAC courses and resources will be released via Bridge 

  • Clinical genetics SpR teaching: a series of online teaching sessions delivered by subject matter experts to support the broader clinical genetics SpR training 
  • Variant interpretation workshops and webinars: a series of webinars and virtual workshops to complement the learning of two existing FutureLearn courses (Interpreting Genomic Variation: Fundamental Principles and Interpreting Genomic Variation: Inherited Cancer Susceptibility); 
  • Phase one of virtual reality for lab skills: a suite of immersive observational experiences for core genetic laboratory techniques; 
  • Prenatal exomes course: a blended learning opportunity with recorded knowledge-based learning offset with case-based learning workshops; and 
  • Communications skills package: a cross-professional toolkit of educational resources to support the development of ‘genomic’ communication skills for the specialist and wider workforce. 

We will share further updates over the coming weeks, including how to sign up as a learner to access the training and education available for your practice area 

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