Thank you Doug, I’m glad to be joining the roster of guest bloggers here at the BC Cancer Foundation. I’m a fan of the virtual word myself, I enjoy using Twitter (@sohrabshah) and I have a blog of my own as well: http://compbio.bccrc.ca/.
I’ll start from the top. I was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, and studied biology at Queen’s University in Kingston. There, I first learned the principles of evolution (more on this later). Towards the end of that degree I became interested in computers and decided to take a degree in computer science at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Coincidentally, this was right around the time the human genome project was gaining steam. The nature of this massive international effort —to fully decode the genetic blueprint of human cells —gave prominence to a new and emerging field of science called bioinformatics. This field essentially combined, very neatly I might add, my two basic interests: computers and biology.
It turns out this combination of skills was marketable for me, so I decided to take a job as a bioinformatician at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at BC Children’s Hospital. During this time, I gained valuable exposure for how studying the human genome could yield progress in human disease.
After five years there, I resigned with some trepidation, and entered the PhD program in computer science at UBC so I could immerse myself in this work. I was fortunate at this time to begin collaborating with lung cancer and lymphoma research groups at the BC Cancer Agency who were generating datasets that needed new cutting edge computer algorithms and statistical models to make sense of their data. It was truly a privileged position to be in as a graduate student: working with and learning from molecular pathologists and oncologists at the BC Cancer Agency who were on a quest to understand the molecular basis of disease, so they could improve cancer care.
So that’s how I was first introduced to the BC Cancer Agency, and later it would become a much bigger component of my career in bioinformatics.
Stay tuned for more,