Senior Director, Head of
Genetics and Bioinformatics, Tailored Therapeutics
Eli Lilly and Company
ASHG: If you could go back to when you were a trainee, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself for your current career?
Dr. Penny: Take every opportunity to promote yourself and your research. Reach out to other scientists, both within and outside your area of expertise, to discuss your research and network your ideas. A broad network allows you to keep up to date with the latest innovations, provides a platform to share and generate new ideas, and may open doors you never knew existed.
ASHG: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
Dr. Penny: Being the leader of a group of 30+ geneticists and bioinformaticians in a large pharmaceutical company, you can imagine a large part of my job is administrative. The favorite part of my job is getting to sit down with the scientists and teams to discuss and provide advice on their projects, from developing experimental and analysis plans, to reviewing the results and data interpretation. I really enjoy looking at the data! You might think that given my first sentence, I would say the least favorite part of my job is sitting in administrative and leadership meetings, but it's not that, some of those can actually be very interesting. The least favorite part of my job may be a surprise to people who know me, it is the thing I find the most difficult to do. I do not enjoy public speaking, but as I recognize in the advice above, I understand how important it is in my job.
ASHG: What do you think the future holds for the field of genetics?
Dr. Penny: I can't think of a better time to be working in the field of genetics. The idea of accessible genomes is really exciting. In the area I work in, for example, I believe that genetics will positively transform how diseases are diagnosed and treated and how drugs are discovered and developed. Genetics has the potential to be at the center of the patient experience and change the practice of medicine in future. Breakthroughs in the analysis of integrated biomarker and clinical data will improve our power to understand the impact of heterogeneity in human biology.