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UkeU, Leeds and Manchester launch global masters programme in bioinformatics

The universities of Leeds and Manchester will provide a new masters course in bioinformatics for UKeU. Leeds and Manchester are developing the course, which is to start in October 2003, as partners within the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). It will employ novel elearning techniques to provide training to students in one of the biosciences' most exciting and fast-moving disciplines.

The MSc is designed to meet the increasing demand for experts skilled in using computers and advanced mathematical techniques to manipulate and analyse the growing quantities of genetic information available to bioscientists and the medical profession. Analysing data from sources such as the Human Genome project will improve understanding of many illnesses, and will lead to the development of personalised drugs and other therapies. These skills are of crucial and increasing importance to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and the Universities anticipate substantial worldwide demand for the new programme.

Students from around the world will be able to access the course online via the UK government-backed company UKeU. They will experience the latest online teaching techniques with an emphasis on online interactive group learning, rather than on individual study of web-delivered material. A key feature will be the support provided to the students by academics actively engaged in bioscience research at Manchester and Leeds. A wide range of students will be able to take the programme: as well as learning state-of-the-art bioinformatics, those with a background in computing will learn molecular biology, while bioscientists will be able to study computing and modelling techniques.

John Beaumont, chief executive of UKeU said: "We are delighted to be working with the Universities of Leeds and Manchester. UKeU brings together experts from the field of technology and academia in order to deliver an online learning experience that maintains academic integrity and provides quality assurance for students. Both Leeds and Manchester have strong worldwide reputations and we look forward to working in partnership with them and WUN in delivering this new and exciting degree."

University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor and chairman of WUN Sir Alan Wilson said: "This course shows the value of collaboration between WUN members and UKeU. Bioinformatics is one of the most critical areas of development in the Biological Sciences and I am delighted that WUN can make this contribution to a leading-edge agenda."

Professor Peter Meudell, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at The University of Manchester, commented: "The University of Manchester is extremely pleased with this formal collaboration between ourselves, Leeds and the UKeU. The academic links between the two universities will be significantly enhanced by the arrangement, and supported by UKeU, we look forward to an increased range of course provision and greater world penetration for our Bioinformatics programmes."

David Pilsbury, chief executive of WUN said: "I am delighted that support from UKeU will enable the world-class programme that Manchester has developed to be broadened through collaboration with Leeds. Drawing on expertise across institutions clearly has enormous benefits for students and for faculty and we plan to further extend this programme through input from other WUN partners."

For further information contact:

Tracey Lambert, head of communications, UKeU, 020 7932 4430 or 07766 368657, [email protected]

Gladys Elia, Quietword, 020 7467 9302, [email protected]

Hannah Love, press office, University of Leeds, 0113 343 4100, [email protected]

Jo Grady, Public relations officer, University of Manchester, 0161 275 2018, [email protected]

David Pilsbury, chief executive, Worldwide Universities Network, 07775 914865, [email protected]

The University of Manchester. January 2003.

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