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Trinity College Starts Novel HCS/HCA Course; Speakers Include Top-Shelf Vendors, Pharma

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Trinity College Dublin’s School of Medicine this week announced that it has launched a course in high-content screening and analysis. Though a number of HCS/HCA training courses are now being offered by consultants, institutes, and tool vendors, Trinity’s is the first of its kind to be offered in an academic setting, according to the school.
 
The two-week course, which attracted as speakers top-shelf tool vendors and drug makers, took place in February as part of the college’s existing Master’s degree program in molecular medicine.
 
The course was developed in collaboration with Trinity’s high-content research facility based in St. James’s Hospital, Dublin. The college invited people from industry and academia to give talks and provide training.
 
The elective course, which matriculated 30 graduate students, covered such topics as fluorescent proteins, engineered cell lines, bioinformatics, data management, liquid handling, lab automation, and image analysis. Speakers represented companies such as AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare, Invitrogen, PerkinElmer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and TTP Labtec.
 
“We have been approached by a number of [other] companies who are interested in becoming involved next year,” said Anthony Davies, the director of Trinity’s high-content research facility. He declined to elaborate, however.
 
Davies stressed that any company that becomes involved cannot use its participation as a platform for selling its own technology or products.
 
Big Course on Campus
 
The course turned out to be very popular, Davies said, and the school is currently planning another HCS/HCA course for next year that it plans to extend beyond two weeks.
 
Ultimately, the school plans to turn the course into its own Master’s program, Davies said. He said that many topics relevant to the high-content screening field are ripe for expansion, including the development of special probes and dyes. Davies pointed out that a course on this topic could easily be a week-long offering because probes and dyes are such a complicated and diverse subject.
 
HCS/HCA has a significant technical aspect to it as well, with all its automation and instrumentation, which lends itself to academic study, Davies said.
 
Most Likely to Succeed
 
In a follow-up e-mail to CBA News, Davies said that he feels more schools will begin to offer this kind of course, and that more education in the area of high-content analysis and screening for post-graduate students in the life sciences is needed.
 

The course covered such topics as fluorescent proteins and engineered cell lines, bioinformatics and data management, liquid handling and lab automation, and image analysis.

“As HCS/HCA continues to gain acceptance and impact life science research, the need for training will increase so that providing university courses to train people in HCS will be of value,” said Mark Collins, marketing manager for cellular imaging at Cellomics, who also gave a talk during the course on large-scale data management and HCS.

 
He said academic courses can spend more time and delve deeper than courses in other settings into the science of the HCS/HCA workflow, from cell culture through assay development to data analysis.
 
This will lead to more well-rounded students who are ready to join the workforce, said Collins. He pointed out that Cellomics customers report having difficulty filling job vacancies for HCS research.
 
“I think we'll see more universities offering perhaps not a specific course on HCS, per se, but covering HCS and HCA in their biology curricula,” Collins said.