David Cotter, Bioinformatics | Dublin Office

The YouTube Hunter Gatherer

An interview with Principal Bioinformatician, David Cotter, by Eimear Doyle

Tell me about your background before GMI?

I’ve worked in three main areas of software development. My first job was in email servers, and then telecoms, then payment card security. So life sciences was a very big change!

And what made you want to join GMI?

Coincidentally, I was interested in genomics and was doing my own study in this area. I spoke to a friend and expressed my interest in the subject. She knew someone in GMI and they contacted me about a prospective role. I was delighted, as taking up a role here gave me the opportunity to change direction and diversify my work. Genomics is dealing with genomic scale data, lots of data and infrastructure, lots of different components. The technical work was different, and its application to the field of genomics represented a change in direction for me as well.

What type of qualities/attributes do you look for in your team members?

That they demonstrate the ability and flexibility to work in a fast-paced environment and are keen to learn new things. I am interested in the type of attitude and the environment they have worked in before.

If you had chosen a different career, what would you do?

Originally, I intended to do a degree in physics, but I preferred computer science, so maybe a career in science? Perhaps a teacher - I have a notion I am good at teaching.

Why would someone want to work in your team?

It’s an opportunity to learn lots of new things in an area you may have never worked in before and make a contribution to something meaningful. Figuring things out for yourself and taking ownership.

In terms of culture, what is important to you at Genuity Science?

People are very collaborative and open. We have this shared goal about what we are trying to achieve; to sequence a large number of samples and improve outcomes for patients. That is the goal that we share and are working towards.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself, about to start off a career at Genuity Science?

You should avail of online resources like Cousera for genomics or Deep Learning on fast.ai. Many of these courses are free. The opportunity is immense — there’s no end to what you can learn now.

And what about the proverbial Desert Island question? What would you bring and why?

I would bring a laptop with a magic power supply and wifi connection.

What about food and a knife?

Well, I could use my laptop to watch videos on hunting/gathering. Go on YouTube and learn some new survival skills. A knife? What if it breaks?