15 Biotech-Themed Online Courses to Try at Home

Are you a business guru wanting to know more about synthetic biology? Or an academic hoping to begin your first business? Fear not, here is a list of 15 biotech-relevant online courses to help you scratch that curiosity itch.

The internet has radically changed education. While we carried around piles of books in the good old days, information is now just a few clicks away. The same has happened to institutions. Over the past few years, many big universities have started offering courses on online platforms such as Coursera and FutureLearn that are open to students living all around the world. The best part? The courses are often free to join.

There’s a huge amount of English-language courses on offer across a wide range of topics. If you want to spend your free time this summer developing your career skills in clinical statistics, industrial biotechnology, genomics or starting your own biotech, there’s something out there for you. So sit up, get your notepads out, and check out the online courses that we think will suit anyone wanting to top up their knowledge about the biotech world.

ADVERTISEMENT

biotech online course coursera edx


Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics

  • Free
  • Enrollment every month
  • Hosted by Coursera and run by University of Cape Town, South Africa

The results of clinical trials often contain dense statistics to muddle through. Thankfully, this course is a great primer to understanding the statistics behind clinical studies, and teaches the basic principles without dunking you into complex mathematics. 

The course lasts for six weeks with three hours of study per week. It is run by Juan Klopper, Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the University of Cape Town who runs many more courses for anyone interested in learning statistics and coding.


Clinical Bioinformatics: Unlocking Genomics in Healthcare

  • The whole course is free for seven weeks, and then you must pay €64 to keep access to the content
  • Begins September 2nd, 2019
  • Hosted by FutureLearn and run by the University of Manchester, UK

Genomics and bioinformatics have become big deals in biotech because they allow the development of new disease targets and trends such as personalized medicine. Join this course to find out what these fields entail, and what bioinformaticians are doing with the data.

This course lasts for five weeks with two hours of study per week and is aimed at people with basic medical knowledge. 


Drug Discovery

  • Free
  • Enrollment every month
  • Hosted by Coursera and run by the University of California, San Diego, US

Have you ever wondered about the steps you need to discover a new drug? Look no further, as you have this course teaching the necessary steps of preclinical development, such as compound screening and lead candidate selection. Once you finish that course, check out the sequel courses Drug Development, and Drug Commercialization, which guide you all the way through to marketing a drug.

Each course lasts for three to five weeks, with around three hours study per week. The materials are aimed at beginners and come from lectures and material from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences courses. 

ADVERTISEMENT

biotech online course coursera edx genomics


Causes of Human Disease: Exploring Cancer and Genetic Disease 

  • The whole course is free for four weeks, and then you must pay €64 to keep access to the content
  • Starts October 28th, 2019
  • Hosted by FutureLearn and run by the University of Leeds, UK

The role of genetics in disease is incredibly complex. Guiding you through the structure and biochemistry of DNA, this course explains how mutations in the genetic code result in many of the diseases we see today. 

The course lasts for two weeks, with four hours of study per week. It is great for enthusiastic beginners with no prior scientific knowledge.


Law and Genetics

Many of us maintain our relationship with the law on a need-to-know basis. However, it is vital for businesses to know how the law handles modern biotechnology in areas such as data protection, ownership of gene editing techniques and more. 

This paid course lasts for seven weeks, with a recommended six hours of study per week. It is perfect for people wanting a more in-depth breakdown of the link between law and genetics in the biotech industry.


Healthcare Finance

  • Free
  • The online course has already ended, but you can access the content until November 27th 2019. It is planned to begin again in February 2020
  • Hosted by EdX and run by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Raising money for a startup is a hard task for the inexperienced founder, particularly coming from a background in academic science. Similarly, managing business finances in a biotech, such as funding clinical trials and keeping to regulations, requires a steep learning curve. This course is packed full of detail about handling money in a biotech company, and is totally free to enroll. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The course lasts for 20 weeks, with around five hours of study per week. As it is prepared by a US team, be aware that the funding advice may have a US slant.


Industrial Biotechnology 

  • Free
  • Begins October 16th, 2019
  • Hosted by EdX and run by the University of Delft, the Netherlands.

Industrial biotech is a field involving lots of fermentation, such as producing proteins from bacteria. While the idea of fermentation may sound simple, it’s an engineering puzzle involving broth balances and other complexities. This course introduces the core principles of industrial biotechnology, including the fermentation process, and implementing a bio-based economy.

The course lasts for seven weeks with up to eight hours of study per week, and is open to beginners to biotechnology.

biotech online course coursera edx industrial biotech


Engineering Life: Synbio, Bioethics & Public Policy

  • Free
  • Enrollment available throughout the year
  • Hosted by Coursera and run by the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Baltimore, US

Synthetic biology has the potential to make great improvements in society, such as by producing biofuels and drugs in a sustainable way. That said, it also raises big ethical questions, such as whether we should have designer babies, GMOs, and more. This online course lays out the legal and ethical implications of synthetic biology in an engaging manner for newcomers to the field.

This course is aimed at beginners to the field, and lasts for around six weeks with two hours of study per week.


Biobased Products for a Sustainable (Bio)economy

  • Free
  • Enrollment available at any time
  • Hosted by EdX and run by the University of Delft, the Netherlands, and RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Bio-based products such as biofuels and bioplastics offer a way to overcome humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels and throwing away waste. This course takes you through the different types of bio-based industries and the tricky path to getting them into the market.

This beginners’ course lasts for seven weeks, with six hours of study per week.


Principles of Synthetic Biology

  • Free
  • The course has already begun. It ends on September 26th, 2019, but you can enroll and access the content until November 6th, 2019
  • Hosted by EdX and run by MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

This big course teaches you the nuts and bolts of synthetic biology. If you’re keen to design your own bacterial systems using coding and software, then this is the course for you.

This course lasts for 15 weeks, with up to 10 hours of study per week. It is aimed at beginners to the field with some basic knowledge of biology. If you miss this enrollment, keep checking EdX, as it’s likely to come around again!


Patenting in Biotechnology

  • Free
  • Enrollment every month
  • Hosted by Coursera and run by the Technical University of Denmark and Copenhagen Business School

Intellectual property is a must for anyone starting a business. This course gives a handy introduction into the world of biotechnology patents, including knowing when your technology is patentable, and how to read and understand a patent.

This course lasts for seven weeks with up to four hours of study per week. It’s especially handy for academics without a business background who are thinking of commercializing their inventions.


Creating and Developing a Tech Startup

  • Free
  • Enrollment every month
  • Hosted by Coursera and run by the École Polytechnique and HEC Paris, France 

This online course is aimed at those forming companies specializing in tech that could support drug development and healthcare, such as AI and lab automation. This course teaches you the necessary steps of building a deep tech startup, including technology transfer and obtaining funding.

This course lasts for six weeks, with three hours study per week, and is open to newcomers to business.

biotech online course coursera edx business


Trading Biotech Stocks – Understanding the Healthcare Sector

  • Costs €55
  • Enrollment available at any time
  • Hosted by Udemy and run by the education company R-Tutorials

How can you tell how well a biotech company is doing in the public markets? When is the right time to invest? This course is here to answer your questions, giving you skills such as how to analyze a healthcare company’s pipeline and trade biotech stocks.

This course includes 90 minutes of videos, plus downloadable materials including an article. This course is fairly advanced stuff aimed for people who are already traders on public markets. You’d better already know your IPOs from your private placements before you take part.


How to Validate Your Startup Idea

  • Free
  • Enrollment every month
  • Hosted by Coursera and run by the University of New South Wales, Australia

Business ideas never start out fully formed. The process of building a startup involves tinkering with your ideas, and sometimes completely overhauling them. This online course teaches you some basic business skills that are applicable to biotech companies such as how to get the feedback you need, and how to pitch your idea.

This course lasts for six weeks, with two hours per week of study, and is aimed at budding entrepreneurs.


European Business Law: Competing in Europe

Keeping up with both local and international law is a necessary part of running a business, and the biotech industry is no exception. For example, patents are very important for biotech companies that have potentially groundbreaking ideas and need to protect them from competitors. This general business course equips you with the legal savvy that you need to survive as a life sciences company in Europe, such as defending your brand and inventions using trademarks and patents.

This course lasts for six weeks, with two hours of study per week. The other two courses, Understanding the Fundamentals and Doing Business in Europe, are also useful for anyone wanting to gain some business acumen in the European market.


Do you have any suggestions for courses we may have missed off the list? Let us know at [email protected]


Images via E. Resko and Shutterstock

Let's Continue The Conversation

Feel free to send us comments about this article to [email protected] and/or comment on that article on social media.

We use cookies to give you the best experience and for advertising purposes. By accepting, you support our independent media and its' freely accessible content.