Warren Emmett, Computational Genomics Team Lead at Inivata talks about how his role in bioinformatics is helping lung cancer patients.

I fell in love with the potential of bioinformatics to change biology early in my career.

I started out with an undergrad in Human Genetics and after doing a tutorial on the BLAST algorithm I fell in love with bioinformatics, and the potential it held for changing biology. After completing my masters in Bioinformatics, I was offered an opportunity to work at a small biotech in Italy where I spent two years working on a FP7 project called DOPAMINET to better understand the genetic underpinning of dopaminergic neurons and their relationship to Parkinson’s Disease.

After this I returned to academia as a service bioinformatician at University College London where I undertook a part time PhD in RNA transcriptomics and splicing regulation in the brain. I thoroughly enjoyed the academic environment and stayed on for a postdoc shared between the UCL Genetics Institute and Francis Crick Institute.

As I approached the end of my postdoc I started to realise that my options in academia were limited and no clear progression was available. I really enjoyed my work as a postdoc and my interaction with other lab and clinical partners and decided to look at industry in the hope of finding a similar role outside of academia.

Then I found Inivata

Inivata has some of the brightest minds from across the sector; people focused on producing the best science possible and having a great time doing it. There is a strong culture of supporting each other and striving to build something transformational. I was drawn to the Inivata purpose – to find ways to improve the lives of cancer patients using liquid biopsy. It is important to me that I am part of something that is working to improve people’s lives and cancer diagnostics is a powerful way to do this.

Every day is an exceptional day here

A ‘normal’ day always starts with walking into the office saying hi to everyone. With a coffee in hand and maybe some cake or foreign treats from a colleagues travels we dive into R&D design meetings where we might be designing a new assay or addressing a new challenge. There are many people around the white board, lots of intense discussions, several flowcharts are drawn, erased and redrawn. Following this, it’s a case of sitting down to get cracking with design work.

Afternoons are generally a mix of focused work and scrums in front of the whiteboard to make sure projects are progressing.

My top tip for anyone thinking of making the move from academia to industry – do it!

From my experience coming from academia my main worry was that in industry you would be doing very niche, repetitive work, becoming the proverbial cog in the machine. I have found that Inivata offers some of the best bits of the academic environment such as working with great people, doing meaningful work and applying your scientific craft in a creative and innovative way.

Another one of my perceived downsides was the lack of flexibility in industry, but I haven’t found that at all at Inivata. Our culture is supportive and open.

I hope my experience can help open others to the countless opportunities that industry and companies like Inivata can offer.

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