New online course on metagenomics applied to infectious disease monitoring

Thursday 14 Jun 18


Tine Marianne Hald
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 70 94


Ana Sofia Ribeiro Duarte
Senior Researcher
National Food Institute

Students from around the world can learn about metagenomics applied to antimicrobial resistance monitoring for free in a new online course from DTU.

Infectious diseases are still at the top of the list of the most common causes of death worldwide according to the World Health Organization, WHO, and their impact may be increasing due to growing problems related to antimicrobial resistance.

Being able to quickly determine which organisms are making people sick as well as what resistance genes these organisms might contain is crucial to being able to effectively combat disease outbreaks.

Metagenomics and genome sequencing are promising tools that enable a quick search for disease-causing microorganisms—including antimicrobial resistant genes—through mapping of DNA data. It is possible to use these tools even in complex samples from e.g. sewage or manure.

Experts pass on their knowledge

Researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, have extensive experience in using metagenomics. They have now developed a free so-called MOOC e-learning course, so students around the world can learn different ways of using the approach to monitor disease-causing microorganisms and particularly antimicrobial resistance.

The course introduces students to the different steps of a metagenomics study, as well as the principles behind different analytical tools and how to interpret the analytical results. The course also outlines the benefits of using metagenomics as well as sources of error associated with this method.

About the course

There is continuous enrollment on the metagenomics course, which consists of three modules. The course is taught in English and is aimed at people with an interest in metagenomics as well as surveillance and control of antimicrobial resistance and who have a basic knowledge of microbiology.

Teaching takes place via an interactive textbook, which contains videos, quizzes and assignments with a focus on bioinformatics and statistical analysis of metagenomics data. Students will have the opportunity to meet in an online discussion group during the course.

During the last module, students have to do an assignment in which they have to process metagenomics data. Students should expect to spend three hours per module.

People who complete the course are able to receive a course certificate for a US$50 fee.

Read more

The course is offered through Coursera, which is an international provider of free e-learning courses. Read the course description on Coursera’s website: Metagenomics applied to surveillance of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance.

The course was developed with financial support from the two EU-funded projects EFFORT and COMPARE.

On the National Food Institute’s website you can also find information about DNA sequencing and the institute’s research in this area, which is helping to set the international standard for the detection, surveillance and study of the global spread of disease-causing microorganism and antimicrobial-resistant bacteria: Whole genome sequencing.

In 2016, the World Health Organization appointed the National Food Institute as its first ever Collaborating Centre for Genomics.

The National Food Institute already has experience in teaching online in a global classroom. The institute launched its first MOOC course on antimicrobial resistance in 2016. The following year a MOOC course on whole genome sequencing was launched, which has been named one of the best, free MOOC courses in 2017.

Read more about the National Food Institute’s two other MOOC courses on Coursera’s website: