In September, Om Kulkarni joined Eagle for a six month placement as part of his Marie Curie Fellowship. I asked Om a few questions about his research interests, why he chose to work with Eagle, and what he is hoping to achieve over the next six months:
RH: Tell me a bit about your studies so far, where you've been, what your research interests are?
OK: I studied Computer Engineering for my Bachelor's degree in India. Looking for a field beyond traditional software development, I did a Master's in Bioinformatics and Computational Systems Biology from Newcastle University. Currently I am pursuing my PhD in Bioinformatics at Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble. I am particularly interested in using NGS and statistical techniques for understanding the evolutionary behavior of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), with a focus on augmenting current diagnostic protocols for HCV therapy.
RH: What is the Marie Curie Fellowship and what does it involve?
OK: My Marie Curie Fellowship is an EU Initial Training Network called INTERCROSSING. We are an international group of 13 researchers based in either Universities or Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), such as Eagle Genomics. We have collaborative projects which involve work in both industry and academia, and cover several topics across genomics, informatics and statistics.
RH: What motivated you to apply for a Marie Curie Fellowship?
OK: During my MSc I got a glimpse of the research field and knew I had to pursue it further. Eager to test out my newly acquired bioinformatics skills, I was looking for a project which would utilize my existing experience while providing a chance to work on cutting edge research problems. The fellowship fit perfectly into this criteria, and provided a range of projects which suited my profile. Moreover, my current collaborative project provided an excellent chance to gain experience in both industry and academia.
RH: What will you be doing at Eagle?
OK: I have finished a project on estimation genetic diversity in HCV at Grenoble, for which I used a manual bioinformatics workflow. Here in Eagle I will create a scalable and robust eHive pipeline for the same workflow and implement it using cloud computing. I will also test a few more hypotheses from my project.
RH: What do you hope to take away from your time at Eagle?
OK: One of the group projects in my Masters was working as a team of bioinformatics consultants, solving a unique biological problem. Now doing that in real life as a part of Eagle Genomics, I see it not only as an opportunity for improving my technical skills, but also to better understand the workings of this industry. Experiencing research from both sides, i.e academic and industrial will also help me better plan the course of my career.
RH: What's next in your career after you've finished this placement?
OK: After this placement I will return to Grenoble to finish my PhD, having gained several new skills. I intend to use this knowledge to simplify my bioinformatics workload, and concentrate on statistical analysis of HCV evolution.
RH: And in ten years' time?
OK: I plan on gaining more experience in implementing bioinformatic and statistical techniques for studying the evolution of viruses. I also want to implement this research to improve the diagnosis, treatment and control of viral infections.Viruses and other infectious agents do not follow borders, so hopefully in ten years I see myself working with a global organization committed towards understanding and fighting such threats.