Supriyo De, MD/PhD, is a Staff Scientist at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is a leading bioinformatics expert focusing on the integration of high-throughput data to investigate age-related diseases. In this edition of Featured Chat Friday, Dr. De talked to Burcu Darst of the ASHG Training & Development Committee (TDC) about his career trajectory and experiences he’s had in his current position.
Computationally, one of the biggest challenges that I am facing now is long-term data storage and data transfer over the internet.
In the short term, the biggest reward of data analysis is the ability to summarize huge datasets into intuitive figures that convey biological information. To me, this is like creating art with data and is essential for communicating biomedical discoveries. In the long term, it will be most rewarding for me if the computational analysis leads to advances in Alzheimer’s research.
I love to teach. When I joined NIH, I did not expect to have so many teaching opportunities. Since the launch of the Biomedical Data Science Initiative earlier in 2017, my teaching ambition is becoming realized.
Interdisciplinary research is among the hardest fields to master, but in today’s biomedical landscape, it is one of the best paths to establishing a rewarding career.
Knowing at least one programming or scripting method such as Python or R and getting accustomed to Linux are the most important skills in my view. Then it becomes so much easier to handle large volumes of data. Beyond that, learning to use cloud computing cost-effectively is also an important skill to master.
The best way to learn bioinformatics/computational biology is just by doing it. Classes only give you an outline to follow and Google helps you find a solution to the computational problem at hand. But doing the hands-on analysis is vitally important.
Also, for all trainees I would like to share my motto: learn from yesterday, work for today, plan for tomorrow, dream for the day after tomorrow…and most of your dreams will come true.