Happy New Year everybody! 2020 was an odd and challenging one but if you are reading this you made it through. Pat yourself on the back for it.
I have been meaning to write this for a long time, but I always find myself with a massive list of tasks and it is hard to find time. So, three years of the STP gone, completed. I can brag to have completed it, registered as a Clinical Bioinformatician and hold a permanent Clinical Scientist position at Addenbrookes’s Hospital, but how did I get here and what did I learn?
It was Spring of 2020 and time to go on my first rotational placement of the STP; the informatics team of a private healthcare company. Throughout my career I have worked in the public sector, so this placement was a great chance to gain an insight into the corporate world of the private sector.
The good start I was hoping for on Monday morning didn’t quite come into fruition. But, it wasn’t a total disaster. The job hadn’t failed or been killed, it just hadn’t finished running yet. Which was fine… except I wasn’t sure exactly how long things were allowed to run until they were killed by the job scheduler. I’d heard ~2 and a half days, and as the clock approached almost 3 days of run time I started to get very nervous, especially since the log files were indicating that the jobs were only about 65% complete (turns out it took 5 days but it was allowed to continue running so I’m taking that as a win).
As many new trainees will have just completed or shortly be starting their first stint at their respective universities, Ang Davies, a senior lecturer on the clinical bioinformatics teaching pathway, takes a look at that pathway and how clinical bioinformatics as a profession has developed over the past 7 years. From the first year of training where the entire profession was practically founded, to the breakthrough that is routine genomic testing across England, who better to reflect on that journey than someone who helped pave the way?
How many bioinformaticians knew they wanted to specialise in bioinformatics when they were 18 and sitting their A-levels? Probably not a lot.
Considering that bioinformatics is such a specialised and multidisciplinary field, sometimes I think about how I ended up choosing this as my career path. Initially, I went to the University of Kent to study Biomedical Science with the ultimate goal of getting into Graduate Medicine, like the majority of my classmates. When did I decide that medicine wasn’t for me? Probably when I decided I really disliked pharmacology.
A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to attend the European Conference of Computational Biology (ECCB) in Athens, Greece. As a proud greek, the moment I saw there was a bioinformatics conference in my home country I really wanted to go, but also it was an excellent opportunity for me to network, create new contacts and ideally find potential elective opportunities. Every trainee, depending on the trust, has a budget allocated by the school to cover the expenses of going to university. If you are not too frivolous when booking your university accommodation, you might end up with some leftover budget that can be used to attend conferences like this one. Don’t be afraid to ask! If you find an event or a conference that you think might be interesting, ask your TO if you can go. Obviously, don’t find the most expensive conference on the other side of the world cause there’s so much your budget can stretch to.
It’s national coding week! To celebrate I wanted to talk about how important coding is in healthcare and put it into perspective for those of you that might read that and think “Coding? How could that possibly influence my healthcare?”
It’s true, I may be a little biased as I am a bioinformatician, so a large part of my job is – you guessed it – coding. However, I really don’t think it will be long before coding will be an essential part of all healthcare science jobs!
Hello everyone! Earlier this week was the STP induction day in Birmingham for all the new trainees. So I thought, as so many people are starting their scientist training journey, what better time to share a look back from someone who is coming to the end of theirs. I asked Verity Fryer, a third year clinical bioinformatics trainee (and now also a fully employed Healthcare Scientist!) in my department some questions about her past 3 years and this is what she had to say:
How do you feel coming to the end of the STP?
Relieved, happy and proud of what I’ve achieved. I can’t quite believe I’ve done it and it’s finished (I submitted and had approved my last competency this morning!).
One of the things I love about bioinformatics is how relatively new the field is. Bioinformatics; first coined in 1970’s correspondence between Hesper and Hogeweg as a term to describe “the study of informatics processes in biotic systems”1 has since evolved into an invaluable skill in a biologist’s skillset. As a multi-disciplinary field with a delicate balance of biology, computer science and statistics, it is well-known as the method used to deal with “big data” particularly in the field of genomics. But this isn’t how it started. Continue reading “Bioinformatics: back in time”