Michelle Penny, PhD
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
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.
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