theshortread5
Welcome to The Short Read, our weekly peek behind the curtain at the people who make this amazing community tick. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for the latest instalment.

Nan Fang

Nan Fang, PhD, MBA, Novogene

Nan Fang is Deputy General Manager at Novogene, where she’s currently working on building up a new R&D centre. Before she joined Novogene, she lead the R&D team in QIAGEN Germany, where she successfully established the GeneRead and QIAseq NGS library prep product line. 

What are you working on right now?

I am building up a new R&D centre at Novogene Nanjing. The goal of the R&D centre is to develop cutting-edge experiment and bioinformatics tools that can be used to better decipher human genomes and understand the molecular mechanisms underlying health and diseases.  For example, one project is to develop an improved HiC (Chromosome Conformation Capture) method together with advanced data analysis package to study genome in three dimensions. Another current project is to develop new applications based on the long-read sequencing to study the role of structure variations, methylation, and RNA isoforms in development and diseases.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work at the moment?

Establishing necessary processes at Novogene without hindering its speed and flexibility. The nimbleness of Novogene has enabled us to become the largest research service provider in the world less than six years after the company was grounded. Novogene has always been quick in recognizing and responding to the technology and market trends, as well as customer needs. However, with the total number of employees now approaching 2000 by the end of this year and the company moving into the molecular diagnostic field, we do need good processes, including innovation processes, to facilitate the continued expansion of Novogene’s global operations. I hope the processes we are now setting up will be a facilitator not blocker of innovation and speed. We have to achieve this delicate balance.

Name one big development that you would like to see in your field the next 18 months.

I would like to see long-read sequencing that is more robust and accurate.  It will be a very powerful tool for both basic and medical research fields. Imagine all the structural variants we can discover, and all the genomes we can assemble with such long-read sequencing! 

What are you most proud of in your career?

The decision I made at the end of last year to join Novogene. After ten years at QIAGEN R&D in Germany where I successfully established the GeneRead and QIAseq NGS library prep product line, moving to Novogene in China was a big change for me both professionally and personally. I am proud that I had the courage to move out of my comfort zone to join such a young and dynamic company –and to help it to grow further.  

Which scientists, living, dead, or fictional, would you invite to dinner, and why?

Richard Feynman. He was such a bright mind and at the same time such a good storyteller. He was really good at explaining complex theories with his witty tales. This would make him a perfect dinner guest from whom I could gain a much deeper understanding of quantum physics with lots of fun. I can imagine that a dinner conversation with him on physics could lead to lots of new insights and fresh ideas on how physics theories and tools can be used to solve biology questions. After all, innovations are often conceived while two scientific disciplines meet each other. 

What advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?

I wish someone had told me to learn computer codes. Bioinformatics has become so vital for us to make sense out of all kinds of the sequencing data, I often wish I could do my own data analysis or data mining! Well, at least I have now brilliant bioinformaticians in my team now at Novogene to help me with that! 


Opinions and views expressed in The Short Read are the interviewee’s and not those of the home institution

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Who would you like to see interviewed for The Short Read? Let us know via contact@frontlinegenomics.com