Virtual bioinformatics core service for immunology research

Dr. Michaela Lucas is a clinical immunologist and immunopathologist, as well as a clinical professor at the University of Western Australia. She leads a large immunology group with active research in different aspects of the field. In the past year, the group's bioinformatics needs have been met through Genevia Technologies’ Virtual Bioinformatics Core service.

Diverse research interests meets tailored bioinformatics support

Physician-scientist Dr. Michaela Lucas' research group focuses on transplantation immunology and drug allergy research. Additionally, Dr. Lucas serves as the principal investigator for PERTH Trial, a large research endeavor that explores the health impacts of plastic exposure in adults. The group's research interests span a wide range, reflecting the diverse bioinformatics requirements they face. This is why Dr. Lucas has found Genevia Technologies’ service, which provides access to a team of bioinformaticians with varied expertise, to be well-suited for their work. She elaborates on the collaboration's background:

– When we secured funding for the PERTH Trial and a couple of other projects, I intended to hire a bioinformatician. I had someone in mind with whom we had previously collaborated, and who was highly skilled. Unfortunately, he had shifted his career focus and was no longer available as a bioinformatician. Given the urgency of my situation, I sought help. Some projects were stalled due to the absence of bioinformatics input, and the PERTH Trial required someone with mathematical proficiency to transform our findings into a scoring system for plastic exposure.

Clinical Professor Michaela Lucas

Approximately six months prior to this, Dr. Lucas had received an email from Genevia. She found the company intriguing and agreed to an introductory meeting. Although bioinformatics support wasn't an immediate priority at that time, she was impressed by the meeting and kept the option in mind.

– When the previously considered bioinformatician was unavailable, I contemplated whether it might be more efficient in terms of time and cost to employ on-demand bioinformatics support tailored to our project needs. I required a broad range of expertise that might not be covered by a single individual.

Dr. Lucas explored Genevia's website, and reviewed their past projects and their scientific outcomes. Convinced of their reliability and competence, she felt confident in entrusting them with her work. She appreciated the transparent explanations regarding cost and service model. After discussions with her funders and the university, which supported the approach, the contracts were arranged. Genevia's involvement in the Lucas group's projects has encompassed tasks such as bulk and single-cell RNA-Seq data analysis, as well as the development of predictive models for the PERTH Trial.

– Over the past year — and we've recently extended the contract — we've maintained a 0.25 full-time equivalent arrangement. This has proven sufficient; workloads occasionally fluctuate, but it has significantly advanced all of my projects. We've collaborated with Scientific Project Manager, Dr. Davide Chiarugi. His contributions to our transplantation project have been exceptional. As a result, we are now positioned to draft a paper and publish these intriguing findings. This project had been shelved for five years, and now we anticipate a high-impact publication.

– Simultaneously, Davide has been collaborating with my team on devising a scoring system for plastic exposure within the PERTH Trial. Once again, we've uncovered novel and compelling results. We also have a third project that has experienced fits and starts. I'm actually looking into having the Genevia team revive that project as well, with the goal of producing a paper. In summary, this collaboration has proven highly productive for me, she adds with a smile.

Expertise and efficiency across continents

Dr. Lucas has been particularly pleased with Genevia's efficiency and adaptability. Based in Perth, Western Australia, her lab's weekly meetings align with the overlapping office hours between her afternoons and the Genevia team's mornings. Dr. Lucas sees the positive aspect of modern communication tools, such as Zoom, bridging distances and enabling effective collaborations regardless of location.

– Having regular meetings has been immensely beneficial. Communication has been seamless, and we enjoy the flexibility to request re-analyses or explore alternative approaches. This arrangement suits our group perfectly, reflects Dr. Lucas. She also underscores the effectiveness and on-demand nature of Genevia's service, emphasizing the power of teamwork:

– Genevia's service has, in fact, outpaced any of my previous experiences without a dedicated bioinformatician. Previously, I relied on collaborations and people attempting to accommodate our projects. Months would pass without tangible progress, whereas now, we have the weekly meetings and the progress has been swift without any hurdles.

– The advantages of such a service are unquestionably its time efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It's an on-demand service, meaning costs are incurred only when needed. Moreover, there's access to diverse expertise. My projects range from mathematical modeling to single-cell data analysis. While a single individual might be constrained, a well-coordinated team can make substantial contributions even in a limited timeframe.

Another aspect Dr. Lucas highlights is data security. She acknowledges the widespread concern about sharing data across various platforms, drawing attention to Genevia's commitment to safeguarding data:

– Data safety and security are obviously paramount for Genevia, and they're dedicated to this aspect of their work. Consequently, I feel more secure compared to certain previous collaborations where data was exchanged via emails and file attachments.

Dr. Lucas confidently states her readiness to recommend Genevia to her colleagues, concluding with a message to those contemplating outsourcing bioinformatics:

– Give it a try and talk to the team. I wholeheartedly encourage people to seek that initial contact and at least listen to what Genevia has to offer.

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