Writing in Nature, Kelly Rae Chi examines the changing landscape of genome sequencing, and what it means for related careers. "The job of a 'sequencer' is changing fast within core facilities — the university hubs dedicated to sequencing — as well as in individual labs and companies," she writes, adding that as the sequencing process becomes more and more automated, many labs are looking to employ in-house programmers to analyze their data. Sample preparers and technicians, Chi writes, must adapt to "the nuances of four to six different protocols rather than one or two, because the [next-generation] technology allows investigators to sequence RNA and DNA in several ways." Elaine Mardis, co-director of the Genome Center at Washington University in St. Louis tells Nature that advances in technology could require "intensive, highly specialized training." Chi reports that bioinformaticians, "the fastest-growing group of sequencer-related scientists in academia and industry," also face changing roles as a consequence of specialization. Going forward, bioinformaticians will likely take on "layered roles," she writes, in which they bring to the sequencing center their software engineering, database administration, and mathematics skills, among other things. Because bionformaticians are critical in the interpretation of data, Jim Mulkin, acting director of the National Institutes of Health's Intramural Sequencing Center, tells Nature that "almost every lab now needs to have a bioinformatician on their team."
The Changing Roles of 'The Sequencers'
May 17, 2010