Career Interview: Michael Snyder, PhD

Photo courtesy of Michael Snyder, PhD

Professor Michael (“Mike”) Snyder, PhD, Chair of Genetics and director of the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University shared what Trainees interested in big data medicine should look for.

Chris Nowak, ASHG: What are some challenges for trainees interested in a career in functional genomics and big data medicine?

Dr. Snyder: Good quantitative skills and statistics are very useful, and so are programming skills. They require a different mindset: to get out of thinking about one gene or protein at a time. Future leaders in personalized medicine should also develop familiarity with lab experiments in order to understand how they work and why “100 replicates” is not possible.

Credit: Camelia.boban

Three attributes that characterize the best researchers in my field are creativity, rigor, and the ability to think big.

ASHG: What are the best ways to keep on top of the rapidly expanding toolsets in bioinformatics and large data repositories?

Dr. Snyder: Go to relevant meetings, especially those in genomics and systems biology. The field moves so fast that anything published is already old news.

One piece of advice to your former trainee-self:

  • Take more statistics courses!

ASHG: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?

Dr. Snyder: Most favorite: being able to think of a cool idea and just do it! Overall, the field is well funded. Least favorite: there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.

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