Saturday, June 22, 2013

Don't do this

This past week I gave my boss and co-workers notice that I was moving on from UPENN. Normally you wouldn't do this sort of thing until you actually have an offer letter in hand, and for most people I would recommend the latter strategy.

So why did I do it? The main reason is that I love the group I work for. Specifically Garret FitzGerald and John Hogenesch are fantastic researchers, mentors, and all around great people. I have a broad role and I don't want them to be caught with their pants down when I do have that offer letter. Even with the four weeks notice that I will be giving them, it still won't be enough time to properly hand off my duties to other people. I specifically wanted them to have as much time to prepare and to prioritize my responsibilities.

 You may be thinking to yourself right about now "if you love it so much, why are you leaving?" Simply put, I currently don't see a long term future for me at UPENN. Once I realized that, I started really asking myself "what am I good at?", "what do I like to do the most?", and "what do I want to do in the future?" To answer the first two, I like and am extremely good at talking to researchers about their problems and about how to solve those problems with informatics. I like to build prototypes and design long-term scalable architectures that address actual research questions. In short, a Solutions Architect role fits my skillset very nicely.

 The last question has to do with the problem domain I want to solve. Genomics, my current research field, is poised to change medicine is ways we can't yet predict. We are already seeing the value of genetic sequencing in the diagnostics field, especially with respect to cancer. We are starting to see that our internal microbe populations play a larger part in our overall health than previously thought. Most of the current work studying the microbiome would not be possible without next generation sequencing. I want to be part of that sea change. I want to enable the use of high-throughput sequencing, and other 'omics technologies, in biomedical research that will have a huge and immediate impact on medicine. It should be noted that I could probably do that now in the group I am in, and I had already taken that into account when I thought long and hard about wanting to move on.

 So where to now? Good question. I'll have an answer for you, my captive audience, in about three weeks.