BHF Alumna Kristy Cloyd is a Program Manager at DNAnexus, living in North Carolina. We caught up with Kristy about her move from academia into biotechnology, managing a team miles from the office, and working with genomic data.
My BHF-funded work primarily focused on aortic valve calcification, using material characterization techniques to examine calcified deposits. One of the techniques I specialized in was Raman Spectroscopy, which allows us to 'see' the molecular environment of a biological sample non-invasively.
As a result of this research, we were able to further define the type of calcification present in human valves. Determining the material signature of the calcification in heart valves proved useful in comparing aortic valve calcification to other types of mineralization, exploring cellular mechanisms which may produce such deposits, and judging cellular models.
Moving into Biotechnology
Despite loving my time in academia, I suspected I would move to industry following my PhD. When I moved back to the United States, I looked into post-doctoral and industry positions, which was a daunting task. After months of searching, I found a position as a customer support scientist. The role was a great way to gently transition into the world of bioinformatics and software.
Within a few years I was managing the North American team and had several scientists and technical specialists reporting to me. During this time, I was fortunate enough to report to a great manager, who I jumped at the chance to work for again in my current position. I now work as a Program Manager for DNAnexus, a global network for genomic data management, analysis, and collaboration.
DNAnexus is based in Mountain View, California, but I work from home mostly, on the other side of America, in North Carolina.
Working remotely can be challenging, especially in my current position where I may need to chase things up for a rapid turn-around. I can't loom over someone's desk from 2,600 miles away. That said, I don’t miss the Silicon Valley commutes. I've developed a routine and work hard compartmentalize to help keep my home and work life distinct. I also work for a very supportive company and am able to visit our offices regularly to see my terrific colleagues in person and, when necessary, loom.
I really enjoy the customer and solution focus of being a Program Manager. My responsibilities include managing multiple projects including the ‘iron triangle’ of scope, schedule, and cost. Additionally I ensure the effective and efficient delivery of solutions to our customers and partners. I also have the luxury of working closely with the DNAnexus Science Team, who are truly thought leaders in their fields.
The most exciting benefit of my job, however, is working with the diverse spectrum of our customers, who are doing remarkable work.
The explosive growth of genomic (and other ‘omic) data presents huge opportunities for advancement. There are also significant challenges in harnessing such large amounts of information. The DNAnexus Platform is a secure, cloud-based platform that supports work at remarkable scales.
Customers come to DNAnexus for many reasons. While there I’ve seen customers successfully overcome scaling challenges when they need to analyze large amounts of data and share results across the globe. We have customers who have stringent security requirements and they’re able to perform their work seamlessly and safely on the DNAnexus Platform. Additionally, we have customers who need a secure big data platform to integrate different types of data (genomic, phenotypic, clinical, and other ‘omics) to maximize insights.
St Jude Cloud
As an example of the work we carry out at DNAnexus, the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, had the incredible vision to create the infrastructure and tools to process, store, and share unprecedented amounts of pediatric genomics data in one location.
In collaboration with Microsoft and DNAnexus, researchers worldwide are now able to interact with this genomic data stored in the cloud. Not only does the platform allow accelerated data mining, analysis and visualization for researchers, but the data, which amounts to the largest public repository of pediatric cancer genomics information in the world, is also accessible to anyone approved to access the platform.
It would be fantastic to see more similarly-sized project in the cardiovascular space. We now have the technology and computational power to process incredible amounts of data, and so we need the drive, cooperation, and willingness of institutions, whether in universities, hospitals or industry, to synergise research findings with healthcare delivery.
Find out more
St Jude Children’s Research Hospital