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MSc in Genomic Medicine- My experience

LISETTE MARTIN, SHEFFIELD.

I began the MSc in Genomic Medicine at the University of Sheffield way back in December 2015. Initially I considered this part-time course to learn more about genomics with the intention of completing perhaps just a few modules and achieving either a Post-graduate certificate or diploma. However, I soon realised that the course had much to offer, and as it was funded by Health Education England, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to complete the whole Masters degree.

I joined when the course was first set up, so the group was small – just 8 of us in total. We still managed to represent a diverse group across the NHS though, including oral and general pathologists, clinical geneticists, biomedical scientists and psychologists! Learning about people’s backgrounds and their reasons for undertaking the course was really interesting, and the diversity of people’s backgrounds really added to discussions, especially with both clinical and non-clinical perspectives. Initially we learnt about basic genetics and the omic technologies, of course this including next generation sequencing, which is quickly becoming ‘the’ technology for genomic testing. However, soon modules were more focused on specific areas – cancer genomics, the use of genomics in microbiology and how genomics is changing our views and how we manage infectious disease. Two modules I would highly recommend, for those considering them for standalone CPD, are the Ethics and Law module and Bioinformatics. The ethics and law module was completely different from everything else – probably the most challenging module for me, coming from a more scientific background. It really helped you think through the challenges involved in determining for who and how we should offer genetic testing for individuals and families, and also how the law is still evolving to keep up with these new tests we can do. The bioinformatics module was intense – a whole week in a computer lab – but so worth it! Following this relatively short course, I have since gone on to analyse genomic data myself using the strategies, advice and programmes recommended.

Throughout the two years I also undertook a research project. Making up a third of the overall degree, this was a hefty project, but I learnt a great deal from it – including applying for NHS ethics, grant applications, managing project costs and timescales. I’m really proud of what I achieved in my project and hope to go on and present it over the coming year.

I won’t lie – the course was hard work, fitting it in around full-time work. I’ve also learnt that you never do get any better at finishing essays with plenty of time before the deadline! But, it was well worth the time and effort and hopefully the knowledge I have gained will set me up for a good basis in genomics as it becomes more and more important in pathology.

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