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REAL ROLE MODEL


Fern Johnson
Trainee Clinical Scientist, Bioinformatics(Genomics)
Genetics Diagnostics Laboratory - Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
WHAT DO YOU DO?

I’m training to be a clinical bioinformatician, and analyse complex genetic information from diagnostic tests using specialised software and custom scripts to do this. I learn programming, as well as computing, genetics and information governance. As a trainee I complete different rotations at work, and do a part-time Master’s.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU USE MOST IN YOUR JOB?
  • Computing
  • Presenting
  • Communication
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU'VE WORKED ON IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

I’m only in my first year so am just getting started – but at a meeting I presented an idea for validating the analysis we carry out. This is important as we’re making real, life-changing diagnoses. It was great to get the change to contribute to the team so early on.

WHAT'S YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND?

I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford (My background is not at all ‘Oxbridge’ so it was quite a culture shock). I worked for a healthcare charity for a year, and then did an MSc in Bioinformatics. I worked in IT consulting after that. I applied twice to my current programme.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO DIGITAL & TECH?

I was first exposed to programming and bioinformatics as part of my undergrad stat courses. I wanted to do something in healthcare and make a difference, and wanted to work in a cutting edge field where I could improve my technical skills, so clinical bioinformatician is really my dream job,

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO GIRLS THINKING ABOUT A CAREER IN DIGITAL AND TECH?

Don’t be afraid to give it a go – there are loads of online learning resources. It’s also not all about technical know-how; communication, presentation skills and time management skills are sorely needed to make tech projects succeed, and your stereotypical male techie has none of these – plenty of girls do!


I AM...
OPTIMISTIC
SMART
ENTHUSIASTIC