Never forget that humility is the mark of greatness

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 installment.

Enoch Huang

Enoch Huang, PhD, Executive Director , Computational Sciences, Pfizer

Enoch Huang received an AB in Molecular Biology from Princeton University and a PhD in Structural Biology from Standford University, where he was a National Science Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Professor Michael Levitt, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013. 

Now he’s working in a global role as Head of Computational Sciences at Pfizer. When being asked what inspired him to work in genomics, he said: “There were plenty of industry opinions in the late 90s, thanks to the hype preceding and immediately following the completion of the draft human genome sequence.” 

Enoch Huang is speaking day two of the Festival of Genomics Boston on Horizon Stage 2 with his presentation entitled ‘Things I didn’t know I needed to know before attempting to implement a cloud-based genomics data environment’.

What are you working on right now?

My team and I are pioneering the use of cloud services for research applications at Pfizer, such as virtual screening and processing of large-scale RNAseq datasets.

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

The part of my team that develops new computational tools and systems for end users is now supporting 4 line functions, whereas it was just one a year ago.  While it has been very interesting to learn the science behind large-molecule discovery and later-stage small molecule development, for example, and delivering solutions to expose computational models more broadly, it also creates challenges related to prioritizing our activities and maintaining a growing portfolio of diverse tools.

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

I believe the investments we’ve been making on cloud services will pay handsome dividends over this next period of time.  We now have the wherewithal to perform the types of calculations that otherwise would have been prohibitively expensive at scale, such as the computational prediction of the crystal form of our drug candidates, or quantum mechanical calculations to improve the accuracy of our virtual screening.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Definitely the successful recruitment and development of so many talented computational scientists to Pfizer over the last 17 years, many of whom who have moved to influential roles within Pfizer and are leading their own teams.  In addition, I am proud of the role I’ve played in driving adoption of progressive technologies, such as Linux compute farms (2000), the release of open source software (2003), and the Pfizerpedia (2006), just to name a few.  Lastly, and probably most importantly, it gives me deep satisfaction to know that our medicinal chemists have used the scientific software we’ve written to design new medicines that are improving the lives of patients today.

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

If I had to pick one, it would be Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist.   I would recommend reading his book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” to discover my reasons for this.

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

A former mentor once advised me to focus on my weaknesses, because I’d always have my strengths.  While this advice was well-intentioned, I actually believe now that a more productive course of action is to discover one’s strengths and work around one’s weaknesses.  I also believe in the adage that “to go fast, go alone, to go far, go together”.

 


Enoch Huang is speaking day two of the Festival of Genomics Boston on Horizon Stage 2 with his presentation entitled ‘Things I didn’t know I needed to know before attempting to implement a cloud-based genomics data environment’. Click here to register or learn more. 


 

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


Why not check out The Short Read archives? 

George Church 
“Follow Your Dreams, not the Drove”

George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Amalio Telenti 
Defying the “Exome-Centric” View

Amalio Telenti

Anna Middleton 
“It’s OK to Be a Bit Creative and Entrepreneurial”

Nan Doyle
“Get Clear on What Matters to You”  

Nan Doyle

David Smith 
The “Real Keys to Scientific Success”

Hannes Smárason 
The Importance of Grit

Hannes Smárason

Eric Topol 
“Always Question; Never Accept Dogma”

Kristen Sund
“You Don’t Change Culture Overnight, it Happens in Baby Steps”

Kristen Sund

Manuel Corpas 
“Don’t Rely on the Future to Make Your Choices Now”

Manuel Corpas

Brendan Gallagher 
“Let Your Work’s Ripple Effects Help Sort the Future Out”

Hayley Robinson
When Technology Outpaces Policy

Hayley Robinson - MGH

Valentina Nardi 
“Like a Detective Solving a Puzzle”

Valentina Nardi

Stephen Kingsmore 
“Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

Stephen Kingsmore

Judith Benkendorf 
“Do Not be Afraid to Look For Mentors” 

Judith Benkendorf

David Flannery
“If Only We Could Predict the Future” 

David Flannery ACMG

Sarah Teichmann
Exploring the Vast Variety 

Sarah Teichmann

T. Patrick Hill 
“Never Forget That Humility is the Mark of Greatness” 

Never forget that humility is the mark of greatness

Liz Harley 
“Give Yourself Permission to be Challenged” 

Liz Harley

Nick Lench
“Strive to Work With the Best”  

Nick Lench

Carlos Bustamante
“We’re All Adding Our Stone to the Pile” 

Dr. Carlos Bustamante

Paula Goldenberg
“Genetics is a Rapidly Changing Field” 

Paula Goldenberg

Said Ismail
“Making WGS Affordable to Labs and Individuals in Lower Income Countries” 

Said Ismail

James Christensen 
“Research is a Marathon, Not a Sprint” 

James Christensen

Enrique Velazquez
“Innovative Technologies are Potential Game Changers” 

enrique velazquez

Damien Tully 
“Once You Get the Bug for Science, It’s Infectious” 

Damien Tully

Nazneen Rahman
“Sciences is Surprisingly Fashion Driven” 

Nazneen Rahman

Kazuharu Arakawa

“Don’t Get Too Caught Up With Secondary Findings” 

 

Kazuharu Arakawa

Nan Fang

“Bioinformatics has Become Vital to Make Sense of All Sequencing Data”

Nan Fang

Robert Green 

“Pick the Right Controversy” 

Robert Green Genomes 2 People

Carl Smith

“It’s Okay to Ask ‘Stupid’ Questions”

Carl Smith, Managing Editor of Front Line Genomic

Luke Timmerman

“But No Question, I’m Going Against the Grain of Consumer Expectations”

Hans Cobben

“Young Scientists and Entrepreneurs Really Should Not be Afraid to Boldly Venture in Uncharted Territory”

 

Angela Kaczmarczyk

“I’d Love to See More Community Labs and Biohackers Publish Their Projects in Open-Access Journals”

Justin O’Grady

“There is no Substitute for Hard Work”

 

Dale Yuzuki

“It’s True that the ‘Century of Biology’ is Now” 

Dale Yuzuki


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