Bioinformatics Degree Apprenticeship Case Study


Developing research with our Bioinformatics Degree Apprenticeship

Dr Sarah Storr, Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham joined our Bioinformatics (MRes) Degree Apprenticeship in spring 2020. This National Apprenticeship Week, Dr Storr gives us insight into how our work-based programme is developing her computational skills and knowledge and the benefit this is bringing to her research. 

Dr Sarah Storr was awarded a prestigious Nottingham Research Fellowship to allow her to establish her own lab as part of the Division of Cancer and Stem Cells in the School of Medicine. Sarah has 40 peer reviewed publications, and has been Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on grants from Team Verrico, Pancreatic Cancer UK Research Innovation Fund, Breast Cancer Now, Breast Cancer Research Trust and the Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre. She tells us how she is building the skills and knowledge to develop her research through the Bioinformatics Scientist (MRes) Degree Apprenticeship.

Why did you decide to undertake the Bioinformatics Scientist (MRes) Degree Apprenticeship?

I decided to take on the apprenticeship as I had started to rely heavily on others for assistance with large datasets. My research often seeks to understand the changes in gene expression in cancer, research that has become particularly important to my fellowship. The apprenticeship has allowed me to train on the job, learn new skills and apply them directly to my current research questions. The online nature of the degree fits perfectly with my career, being able to manage the degree around my current workload and deadlines.

How have your skills improved since starting the programme?

My bioinformatics skills have dramatically improved since I started the programme. I can assess RNA-Seq data independently and write scripts in R to allow data processing. The apprenticeship directly assists me with my research programme as it allows me to analyse our own data in-house, removing delays and associated costs. My knowledge is being used to help lead new projects that include PhD and MSc students, that I may not have taken on without additional support had I not enrolled on this course.


Sarah Storr - Bioinformatics Apprentice
The apprenticeship directly assists me with my research programme as it allows me to analyse our own data in-house, removing delays and associated costs.
Dr Sarah Storr, Nottingham Research Fellow


How have you found the support on the programme?

The support on the programme is excellent. I have regular catch-up meetings scheduled and receive prompt responses and online tutor support when I need it. Starting this programme during a pandemic was a difficult decision, but ultimately it was the pandemic that pushed me to the decision. Knowing that research was going online for an undefined time period reinforced my belief that building my knowledge in bioinformatics was essential for my research, and the success of my students.

What would you say to another academic considering the Bioinformatics Scientist (MRes) Degree Apprenticeship at the University of Nottingham?

I would strongly recommend the programme to any academic considering it. The course is excellently designed and run, and we have the support of the University’s Advanced Data Analysis Centre, which is one of the largest collections of bioinformaticians, data scientists and research software engineers in UK universities. The programme is very attractive as there is no cost to the apprentice, so you learn state-of-the-art best practices and see the real-time benefits in your research without the financial burden.

If you are an academic or industry researcher who would like to find out more about our Bioinformatics Scientist (MRes) Degree Apprenticeship and how it can aid your research, watch our on-demand Bioinformatics Degree Apprenticeship  information webinar.

Bioinformatics Degree Apprenticeship information webinar 


Professor Richard Emes 
Dr Adam Blanchard

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