Hilary Lemass, Legal & Privacy | Dublin Office

The Navigator

An interview with Data Protection Officer and Director, Hilary Lemass, by Eimear Doyle

Tell me a bit about your background?

I have a degree in genetics and a PhD in oncology, colon cancer. I stayed in academia post doc’ing for a while, working on projects from breast cancer to finding a biological controls for the mushroom industry. But the last project with giant African frogs got the better of me and I moved out into Pharma industry.

I've worked in a variety of roles in Pharma: regulations, compliance, marketing and business development. I had an opportunity of voluntary redundancy in 2013, and I jumped at it to step away from Pharma and see what I could translate my skills into. I worked for myself on numerous projects and one with Dan Crowley in the NDRC in 2013. Then Dan approached me in 2015 and asked me would I like to get involved in a really exciting start up project he was looking at. I jumped at the opportunity of a new challenge, not quite sure what I was signing up for!

Why did you decide to make the move to work at Genuity Science?

Commercial genomics was new to Ireland at the time I started, so everything about Genuity Science (GMI at that time) was new to me! It pushed me outside my comfort zone into career areas I didn't even think of exploring before and I am continuously learning here.

What would you say are the main differences are between Genuity Science and other environments you have worked in?

In the initial days of the company, it was a small team with a large project. So much needed to be done and it was all hands-on deck. Genomics continues to advance and change so much. It's so interesting to be part of a fast-paced environment.

Tell us a bit about your typical day to day (if there is one!)?

It always starts with coffee. I have a rolling to do list. I'm lucky to get through one thing on it per day. Data protection is at the heart of what we do in Genuity Science, so I make sure I'm involved in anything that's new or changing that could impact participation in our studies. As a result, every day is different and brings new challenges and surprises. I need to stay up to date with what's happening in the legislation so I try and factor in some time for reading “continuous professional development”!

What do you enjoy most?

Continuing education is required in the world of data and it crosses over into all departments.

What would you have been in another life if your weren't in science?

A furniture designer! I have a shed full of drills, saws, polishers & nail guns. I love making and breaking things. Unfortunately, I also have two young kids, so I don't get to do much designing these days.

How would you describe the culture of GMI?

There's a great eclectic mix in Genuity from multiple backgrounds. Everyone is up for a challenge.

Desert Island – what would you bring and why?

Books, books and more books! A wine cooler and supplies to fill it and a good supply of dark chocolate…I think the why is self-explanatory!