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Created 2015-04-08 01:10:19 | Updated | Tags: job job-offer support
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You've got basic experience with GATK, MuTect, Picard or related genome analysis tools, and a burning desire to help enable great science for a living? Join us now by applying for job #1774 on the Broad careers web page.

The job in a nutshell:

  • Work closely with method developers and software engineers to ensure user proficiency with analysis software, diagnose and/or resolve user issues, and provide scientific/technical support;
  • Create and maintain web-based technical documentation, tutorials and FAQs;
  • Organize workshops to train users in best practices and general workflows;
  • Perform analyses demonstrating the value of the tools for the user community.

But don't be fooled by the dry description -- this job offers variety, challenge and plenty of opportunity for growth. See my personal perspective/pitch below!

If you're a regular here, you may know I joke about being a glorified tech support monkey sometimes, but let me assure you that this job -- this team -- is about much more than that.

We are currently a team of three -- Sheila (associate computational biologist), David (senior technical writer) and me, Geraldine (bioinformatics scientist, formerly wetlab microbiologist).

As the support and outreach crew for GATK, it's up to us to make sure that the user community -- tens of thousands of researchers worldwide -- has the tools and understanding they need to go out and perform great research. Quite a bit of that research has direct impact on patient outcomes, real human lives (see the user stories for some examples). Some of it follows a more fundamental-knowledge path, and that's great too; it all goes to building up the edifice of scientific knowledge. I sincerely believe that we actively contribute to that research by equipping the community with the right information in the right format.

That is heck of a challenging task. It involves fielding questions from individuals from all sorts of backgrounds (from pure biology to pure computer science) with all sorts of questions (from experimental design to details of algorithms, with a splash of hardware optimization on the side) coming from all sorts of language backgrounds that can complicate communication (I'm originally francophone, myself). And that's just one side of the equation. On the other side, we're working closely with the development team, who are also very heterogeneous: we have software engineers, mathematicians, at least one former hedge fund quant, computational biologists, statisticians, and plenty more besides. All with their own particular perspectives that inform how they communicate about their work, which we then need to boil down into actionable information tailored for the researchers who use the software. So we do a lot of translating of all kinds!

And it's not just back and forth questions and answers or writing documentation, either. Personally, some of the parts that I like best about the job are the opportunities to directly influence the software design and feature set, which typically lead to improved usability and applicability of the tools, based on feedback from users and in-depth discussions with the developers. I always wanted to get into software development and never had any properly relevant qualifications, so it's a real treat to feel involved in that part of the process. Sometimes I even get to contribute minor features or bug fixes myself, which is way cool.

Finally, I can't not mention workshops -- especially the invited workshops held in exotic foreign lands, like, um, Belgium (hey don't knock it, that's where I'm from). Also, Thailand, the UK, and soon, South Africa! These workshops typically involve a team of three people (typically one from the support team and two developers) traveling to the host institution and teaching a multi-day workshop. Some of those who participate originally do it for the free travel; all end up really enjoying the immensely rewarding experience of meeting our users in person. GATK users are on average an absolutely lovely bunch of people, and it's really fun to get to spend a few days interacting, teaching and collecting feedback.

Okay, there's still plenty more to it but I've already gone on too long, so if you want to know more, just apply or message me!

How to apply: got to the Broad careers web page, just enter 1774 in the "requisition number" box and don't worry about the rest.

Created 2014-04-14 21:00:52 | Updated 2014-04-14 21:01:34 | Tags: paper job job-offer
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We have a problem: we have a truckload of material sitting around waiting to be published, but no time to actually write the papers. So we're looking for someone who will help us convert this computational biology goldmine into cold hard Nature Biotech/Methods papers.

This is a great opportunity for an early-career, postdoc-level scientist who has experience publishing papers, demonstrated writing ability, and is not afraid of wrangling complex technical material.

Make no mistake, we're not looking for a ghostwriter; this will involve intellectual contribution worth the authorship in high-profile publications. But the basic material is ready and waiting.

Here is the complete job description; feel free to ask questions in the comments or by private message to me (Geraldine):

Scientific Technical Writer

The Genome Sequencing and Analysis group seeks a scientist with excellent writing skills and experience with scientific publication to work with scientists and engineers on transforming notes and technical documentation for existing analytical methods and tools into polished papers aimed at high-profile journals such as Nature Biotechnology and Nature Genetics. In collaboration with researchers working at the forefront of bioinformatics, including the group that develops the gold-standard Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), the writer would be responsible for designing paper structure and identifying necessary content to (1) better explain the theory that underlies methods and tools and (2) powerfully illustrate use cases based on public datasets. The writer would focus their writing on the introduction, results, and discussion sections of the papers, expanding existing technical material, while the team will provide the methods sections.

The writer will be hired as a consultant, with a minimum of 20 hours/week of work (more hours are possible if desired).


  • Ph.D. in a scientific discipline (not necessarily bioinformatics or computational biology, though familiarity with those fields is helpful);
  • experience and skill in writing scientific papers (experience with other scientific writing activities, e.g., grant-writing, is also helpful);
  • ability to craft a logically structured text from unstructured material;
  • ability to synthesize information from diverse sources;
  • ability to write clearly and concisely without sacrificing precision;
  • ability to communicate effectively in a team setting;
  • ability to work in a highly collaborative team environment; and
  • desire to take direction and iterate drafts with team members.

Created 2012-11-09 19:45:56 | Updated 2012-11-09 19:47:36 | Tags: job
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We are hiring!

We are looking for a computational biologist -- or potentially a computational analyst from another discipline who's interested in learning some biology -- to join us in the Genome Sequencing and Analysis at the Broad Institute.

For more details about the job, see the Broad's career center page and look up requisition # 916.

For more details about the team and your prospective new colleagues, see this page.

You are welcome to ask questions about the position in this thread. If you are interested in applying for it, please do so directly through the Broad's career center page.

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