Real-life story - Kelly Eggleton
Kelly is working in genomic bioinformatics as part of the three-year NHS Scientist Training Programme, having studied forensic biology, anthropology and biomedical science at university.
What I love most about my role is that every day is different; because bioinformatics covers a lot of areas, my job is very varied.
I really enjoyed learning about DNA analysis at university. After finishing my Bachelors and Master’s degree in Forensic biology and anthropology, I realised that I wanted to apply the knowledge I had gained in a more clinical setting, so I enrolled onto another course and completed my second Master’s degree in Biomedical Science. Immediately following this, I was accepted on to the NHS Scientist Training Programme specialising in bioinformatics (genomics) which is the role I’m currently in.
Genomic bioinformatics is an emerging field which is closely linked to genetics. I spend a lot of my time analysing large amounts of genetic data produced through laboratory processes such as gene panel sequencing, exome sequencing and whole genome sequencing.
With increasing advances in genetic technologies, the use of bioinformatics within a clinical setting is becoming more popular. However, genomic bioinformatics is still relatively new and not many people are sure what it consists of. In fact, I often get mistaken for ICT support although I have no idea how to fix a printer!
Most of my tasks are done in front of a computer so it can be difficult to remember how my job benefits people, although the patient contact I have had in the past helps reinforce that the patient has to be at the centre of everything I do. If there was one thing I could change about my role, it would be to have more contact with the people we help.
What I love most about my role is that every day is different; because bioinformatics covers a lot of areas, my job is very varied. On a Monday I could be finding the solution to a problem within the lab, on Tuesday analysing genomic data and then working on my ‘Clinical Exome’ project on Wednesday. No two days are ever the same!
As my background is in genetics, I have had to learn some programming skills from scratch. Speaking from experience, I’d say to work in genomic bioinformatics, you need a range of skills including a good understanding of genetics and some knowledge of computer programming. As the discipline changes and adapts with new technologies, it’s also important to be flexible and willing to learn more in your role.
Outside of work, I like to keep fit and I enjoy cooking. I also love travelling and sailing and I try to fit this in where possible.