Brian Osborne wouldn’t call his career path logical or rational. “I’ve just been following my personal interests all along,” says the 48-year-old, who was recently appointed director of informatics at Cognia, a database developer and distributor.
“I guess I was always kind of the nerdy guy in the building — even when I was doing molecular biology,” he says. Osborne wanted to know how computers and programs worked, so he started learning languages. He was invited to join the Chromosome 1 sequencing project, and is now a contributor to the open-source Bioperl project.
“Bioperl just seemed like the perfect window to work in bioinformatics and play with Perl at the same time,” he says.
The idea of working for a small company and a startup interested Osborne, and he was looking to move forward from his previous posts at Cadus Pharmaceuticals and OSI Pharmaceuticals. “There’s some very interesting intellectual challenges in the job as well that have to do with the data — how to represent proteomics data or expand mental data, and how to display and analyze that stuff, so it’s kind of a step beyond bioinformatics,” he says.
Another perk was not moving. Cognia is in New York City, not your typical bioinformatics locale. Osborne thinks the location is fine, but admits the advantages are more on the business side of things. “The business people talk a lot to all kinds of different companies, and many of them are across the street or in the neighborhood. There’s a very strong business environment and that helps the company a lot,” he says.
There’s no reason to think that the science will suffer for the zip code. “We have started to make contacts at Columbia, we have talked to people at Rockefeller [and] NYU. So there’s a good enough intellectual base here too, which maybe is a little bit underestimated by some,” he says.
— Amanda Urban