Ioannis Ragoussis, PhD
Head of Genome Sciences,
Associate Professor in Human Genetics
McGill University and Genome
Quebec Innovation Centre
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. Ragoussis: Decide early on whether you want a career in
Academia, Industry or as a Professional. This is not always
easy to do and I would advise to gain work experience in a
range of settings. Once decided, then for a career in
Academia the best course is to get good grades that will
allow one to obtain scholarships for postgraduate studies.
Then choose an inspiring subject to work on. For me this is
the most important point, because in order to obtain a PhD,
the drive has to come mainly from within. During PhD attend
national and international meetings to start networking and
getting a picture of what the developments are and the
direction towards which the field is moving. The first
postdoc is key as the way to get there: Select the lab with
the best reputation and obtain postdoctoral fellowship, so
that you have independence and the respect of your
supervisor. Once you start try to develop supervisory
skills, help PhD students. Key aim is high profile
publication. Then the foundation for a career in Academia
are set. For industry, I would recommend to join as early as
possible, or immediately after PhD.
ASHG: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
Conceiving new projects, designing experiments and following
them in the lab. I love the project discussions with my
staff and other scientists, the creativity and buzz one gets
through the exchange of ideas. I enjoy trouble shooting and
the thought process linked to it. I very much enjoy teaching
students and in particular PhD level students. Helping them
to review published work and their own is a fulfilling
experience! Examining a good candidate is also very
Least favorite part is completing paperwork and reports.
Academic committees can also be very tedious at times.
ASHG: What do you
think the future holds for the field of genetics?
Dr. Ragoussis: Genetics will move
towards more intensive clinical applications: Very efficient
decoding of an individual's genetic information at the
sequence level in terms of cost and effort will provide
Clinical Geneticists with an array of tools to counsel
families and individuals. It will also become standard in
diagnosing newborns with congenital anomalies.
Development of more sophisticated data mining approaches
and new statistical tools will increase the number of traits
that can be associated with one's genetic information. It
will require intensive work on regulatory and policy issues
in order to harness how far predictions will go in terms of
them being available and how to protect such information.
Furthermore, integration of the DNA sequence information
with other functional data and epigenetic marks in order to
predict genotype-phenotype correlations as well as
environmental influences is currently a major challenge, and
I would expect this to become an even more intensive
Want more interviews? Join the
ASHG Trainee Forum (Facebook/LinkedIn)
to keep up with new ones!