Forum:Bioinformatics and wet lab science combined
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8.9 years ago
tretyacv ▴ 40

Hello,

I would like to ask if you know anyone who is doing bioinformatic and wet lab science in the same time. My university dont offer bioinformatic courses for biochemistry PhD programme, so I enrolled for a masters in bioinformatics at different university. Now I am working at lab, studying second year bioinformatics and wondering if it can work to do both on a decent level or is it essential to sacrifice on of them to be fully productive. Sometimes I have a feeling that I know everything a bit, but nothing deeply. What do you think? Do you know anybody in similar situation?

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I believe it will be better if you tightly integrate the wet experiment and bioinformatics for a focused field. The field of both are really wide.

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Hi, i'm in the same position. My background is also in biochemistry with the focus on wet lab work. And now i'm also doing a Masters in bioinformatics because i wanted to more of the data analysis. But as far as i have seen during my internships and master course is that there is hardly cross over between the two fields. My current internship is at a company where there are two bioinformaticians that only handle data (they couldn't even hold a pipette if their live depended on it). My previous internship was at a University, they had a big bioinfo department but only handled data. If they needed experiments done they just send it out because it was too time consuming doing it yourself. At my own university the Bioinformatics department was theoretical so there was almost no wet lab data, they mostly did algorithm development and stuff like that. So like you i have searched for a combo job but there doesn't really seem to be a job that really needs someone that knows a little of both because it's more efficient if you have two people that know a lot of one thing :P

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8.9 years ago

Just learn whatever skills you need to answer the questions or solve the problems you have. That may be learning how to do some wet-lab or computer work. No point in restricting yourself to some learning paradigm so early in your career. It's more about answering the question rather than how you answer the question.

Just because a program is stated as a bioinformatics program, that doesn't mean you can't do some wet-lab. It just means the people in your immediate area will probably be experts in bioinformatics. You can and should expand your exposure to other areas. Graduate studies aren't very structured. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Take advantage of the lack of structure and find collaborations that will let you do both wet-lab and computer work.

From personal experience, I went into my phd thinking I was going to to lab work. My program was very much a wet-lab program. But I decided to do bioinformatics. I was surrounded by wet-lab experts which I found to be extremely enriching. I was able to find other bioinformaticians in online discussion forums (like this one) and in the department to help my computation skills.

There isn't a lack of resources. You just need to be very tireless in finding them.

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Your first line "Just learn whatever skills you need to answer the questions or solve the problems you have" is the right motivation to achieve your goals. +1

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8.9 years ago
Anima Mundi ★ 2.9k

Hello, I am actually one of those people working a bit on both sides (with a purely biological formation as background). It works, of course you will easily end up not being a specialist in any field, but I would say that, in our highly compartmentalised world, keeping some broad views might even be a plus.

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8.9 years ago
tretyacv ▴ 40

Thanks a lot! I apperciate all of your comments and opinions, my phd thesis relates to origins of life research with a plenty of possibilities to apply bioinformatics part. In the beginning, I thought that I should try to study different topic in my bioinfo masters thesis, but after the year of schoo, I see that focusing on one subject would be the best choice, and all of your suggestions confirmed my view.

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8.9 years ago

The best would be to focus on a question, do the experiments and then analyze the data. Doing experiments is time-consuming, doing data analysis is time-consuming but if you've done the experiments, you're in the best position to deal with the data. This being said, if your wet lab activities leave you plenty of free time, then by all means make use of it to do something else. However lab work rests on a lot of informal lab lore, knowledge of which can take years to acquire. For me, the main issues are time and commitment. If your wet lab work takes up most of your day, then you most likely won't be very or as productive doing something else, although there are exceptions with some people appearing quite good at this kind of multitasking. It also becomes easier as you get more experience because you don't waste as much time trying to figure out what to do in various situations.

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8.9 years ago

My phd was kind of like that. I did both the experiments and data analysis myself. Although, the experiments take much much more time. My project was about 70% time spend doing the lab work and 30% - the analysis but I think it always depends on the project and how flexible you and your PI are. But you also need help and supervision in both areas so if you are in a wet lab it might be hard to find an expert in bioinformatics and vice versa.

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6.8 years ago
maduh17 ▴ 10

If you really want to extremely good at one of the things you'd need to concentrate fully on that thing.

Being extremely good at computational biology is worth it.

But make sure you are willing to do the necessary sacrifice, and you like it.

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