Hello, how are you? I hope so. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write what’s on my mind for hours so I decided to get straight to the point. Three days ago I did a job interview at a well-known research center in Turin as they were interested in hiring a bioinformatician. The interview went well overall, the team manager was satisfied but I had an enlightening conversation with him.

Team manager: “Omar, what job do you really want to do?”

Me: “The bioinformatician, of course !!!”

Team manager: “Good, but you have to know one thing. There are a lot of bioinformaticians around, but very few solid bioinformaticians”

Me: “In what sense?”

Team manager: “Many manage to complete bioinformatics analysis, maybe they succeed but have a lot of difficulty in concrete IT activities such as: database management, script writing to automate processes or the creation of ad hoc programs to perform better certain analyzes. A true bioinformatician must have general solid data science knowledge before bioinformatics”

Me: “I understand …”

In reality, I did not immediately understand the concept that the team manager wanted to convey to me but in these three days of reflection I think I have reached the point. It is not enough to know biology and try to use bioinformatics tools made available by others to feel like a true bioinformatician. it is necessary to be much more concrete and “analytical”, in particular it is necessary to know how to ask the right questions, collect, manage, clean and manipulate the data useful to solve the biological problem that we have set ourselves and then know how to apply algorithms to solve the problem without forgetting the importance of presenting the results correctly. In short, everything is much more complex than what I meant. Let me be clear. I always thought that I had to learn a lot before I became a good bioinformatician but not that I had to start everything from the beginning.

From this experience I have learned perhaps the most important lesson of my career:

“A bioinformatician is nothing more than a biological data scientist”

In these days I have therefore taken a radical decision but I think it is the most correct. I have to start from scratch or maybe I never started. In short, I have defined a study path to follow to achieve my goal: to become a real and good bioinformatician. I don’t know how long it will take to do this. Perhaps I will never succeed, perhaps it will take years or perhaps there is no actual limit but what is certain is that I will do my utmost to achieve the goal. I intend to report my journey and my progress of studies in a special section here on the blog that you will also find in the main menu and which will take the name of “Bioinformatic from scratch”. I will keep you of all my progress on a weekly basis and will report the sources that I have used over time. I hope this is useful for you and for me too. Keeping track of what you learn over time is always a good habit to improve and consolidate your knowledge.

Now I just have to get to work. In the “Bioinformatic from scratch” section you can therefore find the first article that reports the concepts learned in the first week of study. Follow me on this path and I think that you too can find useful ideas and information for your journey into the world of bioinformatics.

Bye and see you soon.

Omar Almolla