At the core of many bioinformaticians' responsibilities lies the analysis of biological data: applying appropriate tools to enable drawing conclusions from a data set. While this type of a data processor role can be demanding and valuable, it is increasingly a computer’s job. Bioinformatics consultants, on the other hand, are in high demand. Here we attempt to explain what bioinformatics consulting is about!
What is bioinformatics consulting?
Bioinformatics consulting is a service that a bioinformatician provides typically to non-bioinformaticians to solve any data-related challenges.
While a bioinformatics consultant will likely spend a lot of time actually analyzing data, her role is seen much wider than as a mere data analyst. Outside of developing and applying bioinformatic tools, bioinformatics consulting consists of
helping researchers plan high-throughput experiments,
planning data analyses for grant applications,
estimating the schedule and cost for planned analyses,
reviewing data analysis pipelines and training researchers in their usage,
writing bioinformatics method descriptions in scientific articles and
helping researchers interpret the results of bioinformatic analyses.
Bioinformatics consulting, thus, is tilted heavily towards sharing insights with non-bioinformaticians, rather than staring at a computer screen! In an academic setting, this type of service could be provided to a biologist PI by a very involved computational collaborator or a very experienced senior bioinformatics post-doc or co-PI.
What expertise does bioinformatics consulting require?
From the list above it is obvious that bioinformatics consulting requires deep expertise in the technical aspects of bioinformatic analyses — such as single-cell expression analysis, somatic mutation analysis or assembling and annotating genomes — but also an understanding of the relevant biology — such as immunology, cancer evolution or population genetics.
In addition to the technical and scientific expertise, a bioinformatics consultant has to be able to explain a data analysis workflow and its output clearly, without unnecessary technical jargon. (This can be a big challenge especially for bioinformaticians with a background in engineering or physics...)
How do I become a bioinformatics consultant?
All these requirements listed above make an excellent bioinformatics consultant a rare creature. At Genevia Technologies, we are constantly looking for experienced bioinformaticians to be able to provide bioinformatics consulting to our growing customer base.
In our experience, providing bioinformatics consulting to non-bioinformatician researchers requires significant experience collaborating with biologists or physician-researchers. At the same time, it is difficult to develop as a bioinformatician without having access to senior bioinformaticians to guide your steps. (Balancing these two is perhaps the main challenge in a bioinformatician's career!)
If you are a bioinformatician with a lot of experience (multiple years, multiple papers) collaborating with wet-lab researchers and have, for instance, managed a bioinformatics core lab, you have an ideal profile for our team!
How do I hire a bioinformatics consultant?
Our service is all about giving you access to a bioinformatics consultant in the form of an excellent postdoc-level bioinformatician with expertise relevant to your research. Having access to such a consultant, not only when you have data to be analyzed, but also when you have projects to be planned or results to be published, is what we think all research teams should be entitled to.
Unfortunately for many academic researchers, a typical bioinformatics core laboratory is simply not sufficiently staffed to provide a service of this level to a given research group. That is the unmet need to which our Bioinformatics As A Service model is designed to answer.
Even though most of our projects involve actually analyzing data, we are more than happy to provide bioinformatics consulting to help you plan high-throughput experiments, write grant applications, address bioinformatics-heavy reviewer requests or teach your own staff with essential bioinformatics skills.
For more thoughts on finding the best bioinformatics contractor for you, you might wish to download our Bioinformatics Buyer's Guide (published already in 2019, before some highly similar guides you may encounter!)
How do I move forward?
If you feel you could benefit from bioinformatics consulting, just leave us a brief message below and we’ll schedule a free meeting to discuss your needs with our bioinformatics expert. If we then mutually agree that our consultant is a great match for you, we will provide you with a quote for a bioinformatics consulting project.
We believe you will find already the first free bioinformatics consulting session helpful!