Bioinformatics Staffing

bioinformatics staffing

Bioinformatics Staffing Strategies

Building a functional research informatics team requires the development and execution of a bioinformatics staffing strategy. Most life scientists who have the expertise to design and execute experiments do not have the expertise to manage or analyze the data they generate. While many life science organizations are aware of this situation, their attempts to meet their computational needs tend to follow a couple of well-identified paths:

  • They assign all research informatics responsibilities to one or a few members of their team whose primary responsibility and expertise lie elsewhere. Often this person has only superficial familiarity with various bioinformatics tools and processes.
  • They hire one bioinformatics person with expertise in a particular computational area, for example, system administration, database development, or bioinformatics. The support this individual can provide is typically unbalanced, strong in some areas but weak in others. Hence key informatics expertise is still lacking. Despite the mismatch with organizational needs, the informatics post adds a heavy line item to the personnel budget, draining financial resources that might be more productively allocated elsewhere. Even with the ideal appointment, the organization risks the loss of operational continuity as headhunters and budgetary constraints make retention of great informatics managers exceedingly difficult.

Most research organizations cannot put in place an entire research informatics team for several reasons:

  • Experimental work tends to be more labor-intensive and slower than computational work. Unless an organization already has a large experimental team in place, it may not be able to generate enough data to justify building an integrated informatics team.
  • Many life science organizations lack a clear understanding of their computational needs, and they lack experience managing research informatics teams. For instance, without understanding the difference between bioinformatics and computational biology, it is difficult to recruit the right kind of expertise to build a successful team.
  • There is a very short supply of people with computational skills and experience in life sciences. Building a team requires an existing network in the informatics community and a reputation that will attract the best talent. The know-how to train information technology specialists who have no prior exposure to life science becomes essential. Experience managing virtual teams working across time zones is also critical but is generally lacking in organizations centered around physical labs.

An alternative to facing the challenges of building informatics team is to engage GenoFAB as your Virtual Research Informatics team.

Schedule a phone call or send us an email to learn how GenoFAB can help you.