Life At Genomics England

Meet some of our colleagues to find out more about us and what brought them here.

View Job Opportunities


  • Ore Ajakaiye

    HR Business Partner

  • Louise Daugherty

    Scientific Curator

  • Lisa Dinh

    Senior Communications Manager

  • Dr Rebecca Foulger

    Scientific Curator

  • Dr Tom Fowler

    Deputy Chief Scientist, Director of Public Health, Caldicott Guardian

  • Photo of Joanne Hackett

    Professor Joanne Hackett

    Chief Commercial Officer

  • Dr Martina Mijuskovic

    Senior Cancer Analyst

  • Olivia Niblock

    Clinical Interpretation Analyst/PanelApp Curator

  • Dr Simon Thompson

    Data Wrangler

Ore Ajakaiye

HR Business Partner

I work in the Human Resources team, leading on the delivery of operational HR services. My responsibilities include working with managers and employees in the application of HR policies and best practices for high quality delivery on people management and development.

Life at Genomics England

I joined the Genomics England HR team – then just the Head of HR – as an HR officer in 2015.  It has been extremely rewarding delivering HR initiatives in a dynamic environment that is constantly learning and evolving. Adapting and catering to the rapid growth of the project has also provided opportunities for personal growth and career development. Since joining the project, I have been able to complete my CIPD qualification and progress to HR Business Partner.

Highlights

One of the best things about working here is how friendly everyone is; you meet and work with brilliant people from all sorts of backgrounds. I find working in a melting pot of leading experts from varied fields with a shared passion of one common goal very fulfilling.

In social settings, I take pride in explaining what I do and promoting the organisation to family and friends. I believe Genomics is one of the most exciting fields in science right now and I look forward to the delivery of the Project.

About Me

Prior to joining Genomics England, I experienced HR across a spectrum of organisations, from small Academies to larger local government and higher Institutions. Academically I am CIPD qualified as well as having an undergraduate degree in psychology and postgraduate certificate in Occupational psychology.

The combination of my work and academic experience has been valuable in influencing my knowledge of how to best support such a diverse workforce. I constantly find myself building on past experiences to help form innovative solutions for change management.

I was born in West Africa (Nigeria) and moved to the UK with my family when I was 13. I love exploring new places and travel a lot. My most recent trip was to the south of France and plan to see the Christmas market in Budapest. My interest in HR stemmed from curiosity about the way people think, socialise, and communicate daily and in their working environment and I look forward to a long career in this field.

We have had a fortunate and unfortunate recent history of two types of cancer in my family. I really wanted to be a part of changing medicine in the NHS to make use of genomics to improve the care of rare disease and cancer patients.

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Louise Daugherty

Scientific Curator

I work in the curation team working on the PanelApp resource, gathering knowledge on rare disease genes from publications and from experts in the scientific community. There is no single resource that has all the answers, so compiling evidence feels like being a detective, but at the molecular level! This means searching databases, publications and communicating with experts to determine if a variant in a gene can explain the observed clinical phenotype.

There isn’t a single word that encapsulates what I do, so I made one up. I like to ‘De-chaosify’ – disentangling information to improve the core dataset of genes and their associated disorders. This also means checking the accuracy and consistency of our data, which in turn improves the power of our curational team effort.

Life at Genomics England

I am a relatively new joiner, but it hasn’t taken long to feel at home. The curation team is an array of scientists, clinicians and bioinformaticians who have a range of expertise from industry, research and within the NHS, who all want to facilitate improved approaches to healthcare. I believe this diversity is why we have such a dynamic and collaborative team.

What brought me here:
To be part of a big project, with big ideas, big results and big solutions. The aim to harness new technologies to improve patient diagnosis and treatment within the NHS and globally.

Highlights

Genomics England recognises the value of curation. A rigorous academic approach within a commercial environment makes it a stimulating and rewarding place to work, as I am part of a team of curators, but also collaborate closely with people who have complementary skills.

My role means I need to access data on a variety of different inherited Rare Disease areas and this has enabled me to develop a broad understanding of rare disease as a whole. I am also seeing the direct impact of how phenotyping can lead to an increased understanding of causal genes and variants. PanelApp is a publically-available database and crowdsourcing tool. I believe data sharing has important long and short-term benefits not only to the scientific community but also to the public, and the importance of this is recognised by Genomics England.

About me

I have curated a variety of things during my career, from heritage vegetables to mutant forms of Arabidopsis, and from human genes to ontologies and protein signatures.

I had previously worked on the NIHR BioResource-Rare Diseases whole genome sequencing project, where 10,000 samples were analysed as part of the national pilot project for Rare Diseases as a prelude to the 100,000 Genomes Project.

With a long-established history of curation – extracting, annotating and interpreting data ­– I can be part of the bigger project through working at Genomics England. This means that I can continue to help a wider group of patients with Rare Diseases to get a diagnosis. This in turn will enable greater efficiencies in the future of healthcare.

Originally from South Africa, my family moved to the UK, where my parents owned their own pharmacy business. My curation training started early, with many summer holidays spent deciphering doctors handwriting as I sorted prescriptions. Although my undergraduate and post-graduate degrees are in plant science, it was good training for what I do now, as plant models are not diploid like humans, but polyploid, with multiple pairs of chromosomes – which is an even more complicated genomics puzzle to solve!

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Lisa Dinh

Senior Communications Manager

I work in the Communications and Engagement team, helping to deliver internal and external communications activities for Genomics England and the 100,000 Genomes Project. My main responsibilities include planning and managing events, stakeholder engagement, managing corporate identity guidelines, dealing with media enquiries, social media, and producing videos, infographics, and leaflets to raise awareness for the project among patients, healthcare professionals, researchers and the general public.

Life at Genomics England

I joined Genomics England as an intern, after completing my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. When I started here three years ago, the project was still in the pilot phase and there was just a handful of employees. Seeing how fast the organisation and project has grown since has been fantastic, and I’ve really enjoyed working on many of the early milestones in the project; from when signed the sequencing contract with Illumina, received ethics approval, launched the 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres, and the first patient diagnoses.

This project is really pioneering in the genomics field, which means that we’re constantly learning and evolving, and no two days are the same in my role!

You get to meet and work with brilliant people from all sorts of backgrounds here at Genomics England – many of whom are leading experts in their field- and there’s a shared sense that patients are the heart of the organisation and our work.

I’ve always been interested in translational research and was drawn to the project’s ambitious aims of transforming the NHS through genomic medicine. Coming straight out of from university, I was looking for a role that was challenging and one that I could grow in – two things that have definitely been fulfilled since working here.

About Me

After university, I was keen to stay in science but wasn’t sure what career options there were beyond the lab. Communications and media was never an industry I’d considered before, but during my degree I enjoyed using different creative tools to explain complex biological topics, and that’s something I’ve taken across in my role now. I also worked in healthcare, volunteering in hospitals and as a first aider, so that was really valuable experience for my current role – working with families and patients taking part in the project.

I grew up in London and did my undergraduate degree at Queen Mary University of London. Since then I’ve stayed closely tied to the university– with our offices based on the Charterhouse Square campus, and continuing my studies by doing a full time MSc in Genomic Medicine. It’s a lovely, historical campus and with all the greenery you can almost forget that it’s in the middle of London.

I’ve always been interested in translational research and was drawn to the project’s ambitious aims of transforming the NHS through genomic medicine. Coming straight from university, I was looking for a role that was challenging and one that I could grow in – both these wishes have been fulfilled.

Future Plans and Advice

Genomics is one of the most exciting fields in science right now, and the 100,000 Genomes Project really is at the cutting edge on – there isn’t a precedent anywhere else in the world for how to use this technology in mainstream care on such a large scale. This means that working at Genomics England can be fast-paced, with priorities and plans often changing as we come across challenges and learn from them. That’s what also makes it exciting – there’s never a boring day!

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Dr Rebecca Foulger

Scientific Curator

I work as part of the curation team at Genomics England. My current focus is on creating high-quality virtual gene panels in the Rare Diseases arm of the 100,000 Genomes project. The diversity of the curation work means I get to cover a wide range of diseases, and also get to work on different project areas including cancer and pharmacogenetics.

My work involves community engagement and outreach- discussing our gene panels with key clinicians and researchers to reach a community-approved gene set. I have also presented our curation projects to University students wanting to know more about our project, and at Scientific meetings.

Life at Genomics England

In my first year I’ve continually learned about the wider aspects of the project. The curation-side allows me to work independently but be involved in an active team, working alongside other curators, clinicians and software developers. I work from both the Hinxton and London Genomics England offices so I am close to our collaborators on the Wellcome Genome campus, and remain connected to the project headquarters (it also helps cut-down my daily commute).

Highlights

Working in a dynamic group is a huge bonus, where everyone brings a different set of skills to the curation team. Working so closely with clinicians is great to get the medical knowledge to finish off a gene panel.

What brought me here

I wanted to work on a project that had a significant impact. The 100,000 Genomes Project is so well-known in the Genomics field, so I was always intrigued about how curation fitted in to the pipeline. As I was investigating the project further, good timing meant that I was approaching the end of my UCL grant when the Genomics England curation team was expanding.

About me

After a laboratory-based PhD in signaling pathways in Drosophila, I moved into a career in biological curation and ontologies. My first role was at Cambridge University, working on the Drosophila database FlyBase. After 3 years, I moved to the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) to join UniProt, where I was responsible for Xenopus and zebrafish protein curation. Much of my work at FlyBase and UniProt involved using and improving ontologies, and working within large International Consortiums, so it was a natural progression to move to the EBI Gene Ontology (GO) team. Working on ontology development gave me a fantastic overview of a huge range of biological systems, and I could combine the ontology annotation and development skills I’d picked up in my previous posts.

I delayed starting a GO annotation post at UCL so I could squeeze in a short contract at a Cambridge start-up company, testing a new tool for collating MetaData. My longer-term UCL post then focussed on Parkinson’s disease, confirming my interest in human disease, and leading to my current post.

I grew up in Dorset, and will always have an affinity for the coast (even living in land-locked Cambridgeshire). Science was my strongest subject at school, and the area I was most interested in. After considering a career in medicine, I realised it was biology at the cellular level that most interested me most, and lead to me study a Biochemistry and Genetics degree at Nottingham University. I loved the whole experience of moving to a new city and taking on new challenges. I now balance work and family life, working part-time at Genomics England to make this somewhat easier.

Future Plans and Advice

I hope to continue my career within Human Genetics. Although my key interest remains in curation, I aim to develop more bioinformatics skills en-route to expand the roles I can take on. The Genomics field is dynamic, and it will be interesting to see what directions these projects take.

Curation is a great field for those wanting to stay in Science but not head down the laboratory route. I would suggest familiarising yourself with a range of databases, and getting some experience in curation- often posts advertised as short-term will lead to a longer project so don’t discount temporary jobs.

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Dr Tom Fowler

Deputy Chief Scientist, Director of Public Health, Caldicott Guardian

I have operational responsibility for the Genomics England interface with the NHS – in this capacity I work to support the science stream around rare diseases, infectious diseases and cancer.

In particular, I have led the rare disease pilot phase of the 100,000 Genomes Project. I also coordinate the Project’s infectious disease strand, which is led primarily by Public Health England.

About Me

I have a PhD in Behavioural Genetics from Cardiff University focusing on child and adolescent psychopathology and continued to a research position studying drug and alcohol use in adolescence. This sparked my interest in public health and I then moved to train as a public health consultant.

In my previous role I was a locum consultant epidemiologist in the West Midlands investigating infectious disease outbreaks, with a strong interest in the applications of Whole Genome Sequencing.

Prior to that I was based with the Chief Medical Officer of England, Dame Sally Davies, and I was editor of her first two annual reports on the state of Public Health. In my public health life I have worked at local, regional and national level in a wide range of areas from specialised commissioning to a placement with the National Behavioural Economics Unit (at the time based in the Cabinet Office).

Despite being service-based in my public health career, I have retained a strong interest in research and continued to publish service base issues (see ResearchGate).


Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone
Photo of Joanne Hackett

Professor Joanne Hackett

Chief Commercial Officer

As Chief Commercial Officer and lead member of the Business and Investment Committee, I am responsible for Genomics England’s industry engagement strategy. By developing, managing and accelerating relationships with commercial organisations we are creating opportunities for collaboration both nationally and globally.

This includes creating a portfolio of external investments and strategic alliances that advance technology and product strategies, and help to meet research, development and commercialisation goals.

It is my goal to have everyone feeling as though they are part of the ‘commercial team’ – because they are. We have a responsibility to ensure the great work we and our partners do is realised fully. Commercialisation may mean that a partner grows their company or it may mean that we submit a patent. It can mean several things – it’s not always about a company trying to become rich.

Life At Genomics England

I was recruited to Genomics England in April 2017 and must admit I feel very at home here. I have been welcomed and embraced and already feel as though I am working as part of a team. A commercial role can be thought of as one that is not linked to ‘core business’ – but that is not at all true. Commercialisation of clinical research is what has led to very interesting outcomes and has encouraged competition which has led to even more advancement.

The relentless pursuit of better health for the patient population is at the heart of Genomics England. This is exceptionally important for me and something I have been striving towards my whole life. Genomic medicine has been a major part of my life as I have Coeliac Disease and this is only diagnosed by sequencing. While a bit dramatic to say it – genomic medicine has saved my life. It is now my duty to pay it forward.

My highlight is working with people who are passionate about improving the lives of the patient population.

About Me

I have been involved with clinical research for the past 20 years. I am a professor of regenerative medicine which can often rely quite heavily on genomic or personalised approached to treatment. I have always worked in the space that combines the A,B,C’s – academia, business and clinical.

I have been fortunate to work in all industries – and by doing so I can see what is missing in each of them. Having a role which allows me to pull through the strengths of each sector is very exciting and rewarding.

I am from the East Coast of Canada and left home when I was 16 to pursue an undergraduate degree. I moved to London for a MSc and back to Canada for a PhD. Postdoctoral work was in Canada and America, before moving to Sweden for my first academic post. While I am best known as a clinical academic and entrepreneur who successfully translates academic research into medical and commercial returns, I am also a yoga instructor in my spare time! Namaste genomes.

Future Plans

I am excited to be part of an initiative that will allow the full potential of genomic medicine to be realised. My goal is to have everyone at Genomics England embrace the commercial agenda and allow us to really put the UK on the map as a world leader in this space. We have excellent science, a unified healthcare system and data that is very rich. If we can pave the way for others – we will be saving and enhancing lives daily. I will always find time to discuss the commercial agenda with anyone who is interested – don’t be shy… just drop me an email!

Contact

You can find out more about our Industry Partnerships here: Working With Industry

Contact Us

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Dr Martina Mijuskovic

Senior Cancer Analyst

In my role as a cancer analyst I’m working on various projects either individually or together with other teams, such as looking at quality of data, developing analysis pipelines and analysing experimental samples.

Life At Genomics England

I particularly enjoy the exchange of ideas and methods here, which is an important aspect of our daily life. Having access to people from very different backgrounds, from clinicians to developers, I have had a chance to grow a lot professionally.

My background is in molecular biology and I have specialized in cancer bioinformatics during my postdoctoral training. Having experience in both of these disciplines led me to Genomics England, where I have a chance to continue my work on a much larger scale.

About Me

I grew up in a small town in Croatia. Besides being always interested in computers and programming, I had a high school teacher who sparked my interest in molecular biology. After studying this subject at University of Zagreb, I was lucky to work in different places such as Zurich, New York and Philadelphia before coming to London.

After next generation sequencing technologies became available, I quickly moved into the field of genomics and bioinformatics. I find this field fascinating because they connect my interest in genetics with the fun of coding.

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Olivia Niblock

Clinical Interpretation Analyst/PanelApp Curator

I am lucky enough to work in two different teams within the Bioinformatics department at Genomics England. In my role as a Clinical Interpretation Analyst, I perform quality control checks on the sequenced genomes returned to Genomics England by our Clinical Interpretation Partners, whereas in my role as a Curator, I create and review virtual gene panels for the diseases in the project – genes which will go on to annotate participants’ genomes.

Life at Genomics England

I have been in my role for over two years and one thing I noticed immediately is the diversity of specialities that are brought together here – from clinicians and bioinformaticians to lawyers and ethicists. The work is ever changing but above all it’s rewarding.

One of the best things about working here is the willingness of colleagues to help you learn new skills and share their knowledge with you. I have learnt so much from my colleagues and am very grateful for the opportunity to expand my knowledge of different subjects.

About Me

I came to Genomics England as a Medical Genetics graduate, having worked previously for a mental health charity, and originally worked in the Service Delivery department before moving to the bioinformatics department on the completion of my masters in Genomic Medicine.

I became interested in genetics from a young age after my cousin died from juvenile Huntington’s disease aged 5. I wanted to be part of bringing genomic technologies into the NHS and help in any way possible to alleviate the suffering of other people and families blighted by genetic disorders.

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Dr Simon Thompson

Data Wrangler

Genomics England gets clinical data of lots of different types from lots of different sources. I am part of a team that takes in all these different sources of data, and amalgamates them into a more cohesive dataset for use by the various researchers accessing the deidentified 100,000 Genomes Project dataset.

Day to day I look at lots of data, write computer programs to reshape that data, and do some basic analysis of the data’s quality and suitability. There is lots of creative problem-solving and discussion with colleagues about what the end product should look like, and how to get there.

Life at Genomics England

I’m quite new to this role but worked at Genomics England for a couple of years previously in the GeCIP Team. Over that time I’ve really seen the company grow and the project progress. It might sound a little trite, but it is a real honour to be part of such an important cutting-edge project. To work with people of all different backgrounds, but all very good at what they do, makes every day a school day.

In my postdoc I routinely had to explain to potential research participants that the results of our research wouldn’t benefit them, and might not even benefit their grandchildren; after a while it was a bit dispiriting. With the 100,000 Genomes Project the benefits to the participants are more clear, and even the research findings are being fast-tracked into patient care. The project feels like it is paving the way for how healthcare and research can operate in a world that expects immediacy.

Working at Genomics England can be pretty hectic, but this means that there is real license to shape what you do and how you do it. I’ve always been encouraged to take ownership of a piece of work which has allowed me to learn new skills and develop new talents that I might not have got if my role was a bit more structured.

About Me

I come from an academic background. After a PhD I went to America for a postdoc that involved leading long field trips in a number of countries across Africa. After five incredible years, I moved back to London but a postdoc I’d set up beforehand fell through. A little disillusioned with the fragility of an academic career, I started to work managing a number of separate research projects. I saw the Genomics England advert and I knew I had to go for it, and was lucky enough to get it.

I grew up in Wales but have spent most of my professional life in various bits of London. I’m a cycling fanatic in that I love riding bikes but also love watching the professionals race. Several years ago I cycled from Cambridge to Kenya and although I’ve done other similar cycle tours in the past (and would like to do more), for now I’m restricted to the odd weekend away and the daily commute into work.

Future Plans and Advice

I came to computer programming late in my career and always regret taking the easy way out and not forcing myself to learn during my PhD. I think being able to program and use a computer efficiently is relevant to the vast majority of jobs, and it’s certainly something I would encourage others to consider if they’re not already.

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Share thisShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone