Genetic counsellors see individuals and families to discuss genetic conditions that are present, or are thought to be present, in their family. Information about an individual’s personal medical history and their family history is taken into account when determining the likelihood of a genetic condition running in a family.
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”
The moment I got an offer for the STP, I think my heart skipped a few beats. Throughout last summer I was constantly excited, couldn’t wait to move to Cambridge and get started. Not that I was entirely sure what it involved at that time but I knew that bioinformatics in healthcare was something I was passionate about.
A fellow trainee suggested to me I should read “This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay. As it had been on my reading list for a while, and in a desperate need for a light and entertaining read, I gave it a go.
Let me just say now, I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in a long time. It is one of those books that you start and you have difficulty putting back down without finishing. It made me laugh out loud, which when you are alone in a public place is not ideal.
I know what you’re thinking- “Jes, what are you talking about? This blog is supposed to be about the STP!”
Well, it all started a couple of weeks ago, on a rainy Friday at the pub after work. Dreaming of better days with better weather, someone piped up “Do you know what would be great? When the weather is good we should have a rounders game!”
We’ve all met new people where the first question is, “So what do you do?”. When I reply, I usually get a blank face in response. How do you explain it in plain words? I usually say we are the people in between biology and computer science and it does the trick. Otherwise, you have to explain what is DNA, what is DNA sequencing, what is a mutation, things that are “coded” in us. What is the usual jargon to us might be someone else’s rocket science.
As there’s a chance that some of you are unfamiliar with the programme we are on, here’s a brief introduction.
The Scientist Training Programme or STP as we call it, is a training programme organised by the National School of Healthcare Science and NHS Health Education England with the aim to train the country’s clinical scientist workforce. At the moment, there are 23 specialisms offered by the programme. The training is undertaken in the span of three years and it consists of 80% on-the-job training and a 20% academic component.
I’m sat writing this on a Sunday night; the Sunday night before I start my 50th week in training to be a clinical bioinformatician. 50 weeks sounds like a long time – and it is. And I’ve learnt so much, both technically and professionally. So, with almost 1/3 of my training down, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on this time and share a brief overview of my journey so far.
Yes- we started a STP bioinformatics book club! Our lovely colleague Chris suggested the idea as a way to encourage us to read books around related topics that won’t be directly covered in our teaching.
Our first book is “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. We are planning on discussing it when we meet in Manchester in November, which gives us plenty of time, and we would love it if you want to read it too and tweet us your opinions!
Welcome to STP perspectives, a blog run by trainee clinical scientists undertaking the NSHCS’s Scientist Training Programme.
We are a group of soon-to-be clinical scientists training towards becoming fully-fledged Clinical Bioinformaticians in Genomics. As we approach the end of the first year of our training, we want to share our journey so far, what we are currently up to and things we find interesting.