"Follow your instincts. Be fearless."

Mark McCarthy
Photo courtesy of Mark McCarthy, MD, FRCP, FMedSci

Professor Mark McCarthy, MD, FRCP, FMedSci, Robert Turner Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, UK, is a physician-scientist and human geneticist. He presented several invited sessions on the genetics of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases at the ASHG 2016 Annual Meeting and gave Chris from the TDC his quick-fire answers around academic careers in his field of research.

Challenges for Trainees who want to develop a career in the genetics of complex diseases:

  • Being in command of both biological and computational aspects
  • Getting credit for effort in large consortium-based research


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Credit: Creative Commons 3 - CC BY-SA 3.0; Creator: NY - http://nyphotographic.com/


How to keep on top of the rapidly expanding bioinformatics field and the increasing availability of large data repositories:

  • Find a niche (even if you get involved in more general things, too)
  • Reach out to those other cohorts


Skillsets future "leaders" in genomic medicine or population genetics should focus on:

  • Computation/coding
  • Statistical analysis
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Function
  • Physiology
  • Health informatics
  • … of course, few can do all of these


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One piece of advice to your former trainee-self:

  • As in other aspects of life, my advice is the same: Follow your instincts. Be generous & honest to yourself and others. Be fearless.

What are the favorite and least favorite parts of your job?

  • Most favorite – The thrill of discovery
  • Least favorite – Doing stupid & routine paperwork late at night
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Three attributes that characterize the best researcher in your field:

  • They don’t get emotionally attached to their hypotheses: they are equally happy to be proved wrong as right
  • They get the big picture
  • They do their best to nurture and support junior staff

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