Tell us about your role and what a typical day looks like
My role involves processing, analysing and interpreting large amounts of biological data, primarily from DNA sequencing experiments. On an average day I’ll usually be working on 2-3 projects (usually 2 smaller and one larger). Generally, this involves writing computer code to help diagnose disease/disorders from patient genetic data, with the eventual goal of identifying specific genes which can be targeted for personalised treatments to which specific patients will respond well. Bioinformatics is a fairly new and very fast moving field combining computer science, statistics and biology, so on a day to day basis I will find myself reading and researching a range of topics to keep up with field, which I very much enjoy.
What have you gained from working at Almac?
Even though I have only been here for 8 months, I have gained a lot of skills and knowledge which will help me further progress my career. My background is not in human genetics so I have gained a lot of knowledge in this area, especially regarding cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’ve also picked up and learned several new coding languages since starting to work here and feel like my skills in this area have drastically increased.
What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with Almac?
In terms of my current work I would like to be able to take more projects from the initial stages right through to completion, and continue to improve my programming skills. I’d also like to gain more experience with using “smarter” methods which utilise machine learning for diagnosis, as I feel that these will eventually replace a lot of the methods we are using today, and it would be nice to be ahead of the curve on that. In the longer term, I would obviously like to climb the career ladder into a more senior role but at the minute I enjoy my current role very much.
What is the favourite part about working for Almac?
My favourite part is definitely having the freedom to research, and come up with solutions to problems while also contributing to something useful. I love learning and researching new things and applying these to real-world problems, so I feel very fortunate to have found a job which allows me to do this while also producing something practical which may help people in the long run.
What are your hopes for our industry?
In the long run I hope that the industry will move away from more general “blanket” treatments for a disease (which aren’t always effective for all patients) into more effective personalised treatments which can be tailored to individual patients based on their genetic makeup. The industry has already started to move in this direction, but there are many more years of work before this becomes a reality, so I feel that working in a diagnostics company where personalised medicine is a focus is a good position to be in for the future!
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