A Bioinformatician is a Technician, no More

A Bioinformatician is a Technician, no More

Casey Bergman told students, why they should do PhD in bioinformatics/computational biology.

Top N Reasons To Do A Ph.D. or Post-Doc in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology

Our response “Top N Reasons NOT to do a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology” started with the following paragraph -

Bioinformatics has many layers, as discussed in the following articles.

A beginners guide to bioinformatics part I

A beginners guide to bioinformatics part II

Unless you can reach Layer 5, you remain a glorified technician in the bigger picture of things. Do you really think that is good enough reason to get a PhD?

The following sad story suggests that we were not unnecessarily negative.

Dear ***,

You probably know I desperately want to write up a tool paper last year (*), at that moment my biggest fear was not B in fact, but was the expectation that I would be placed middle-of-no-where in the authorship in their Biology paper. I guessed right.

Not sure if it is normal, but just got very frustrated in this lab. Yesterday ** summoned me to his office, told me that my position was shifted backward (from 2nd to 4th).

The situation is like that. We developed , we used it to discover those **** event, all validated. Among them, the Biology lab already did some work on one of the ** (long before we developed ). They used that as an example to do more in depth work and submitted the *** **. I did the submission phase works. My position was 2nd. The 1st is a former student who devoted his PhD life on it.

The paper came back with revision. Lots of biology questions. I did my part and proposed the Bioinformatics response. I thought it was alright. Yesterday ** told me he had discussed with **** in the **-** meeting, and made a decision to shift me backward, because their lab members worked hard on revision phase and did many experiments. I had no choice and said it is fair.

Maybe it is fair. I do not argue that the wet-lab team deserve important positions because they worked hard. I just couldn’t believe (1) we did well and there was little Bioinformatics related question, (2) then it is my fault to contribute little in this revision phase. I also spent my last 1.5 year on this. If I didn’t propose/argue with them to publish *** independently. Then what do I get now for working on this in this post-doc life?

For wet-lab members, they all have their projects. And mine is to work to help them get things out. Am I a technician?

When they worked hard on wet-lab experiment, do we just sit down and take a nap?

In **’s office, I did not argue at all. I accepted it because it is entirely not up to me, and it was a decision they have already made. **just re- directed the message / informed me. ** re-iterated we are not pet bioinformatician, but I think we are just free-rider in biology’s people eye.

** said to me such decision is to prevent the wet-lab people think we are free-rider, get it their lab and get important position in the paper. And this decision will make them relieve. So basically it means I am the one to be sacrificed for fear of morale hazard in wet-lab team. And by doing so, I can work them the wet-lab team more closely. I have no objection, but again, I know I have lots of morale to spare.



In the same context, readers may also like our other commentary -

To Do (PhD in Bioinformatics) or Not To Do? That is the Question

When to Leave the Academia (University Cartel)?

Overall, our views remain the same. The university system in USA is mostly an unproductive and government-supported cartel, whose primary purpose is to support the older members at the cost of younger ones. Younger you are, better off you will be by running away from it.

Written by M. //