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.

Jeffrey Reid

Dr. Jeffrey Reid, Senior Director, Head of Genome Informatics, Regeneron Genetics Center

Jeffrey Reid is the head of genome informatics at the Regeneron Genetics Center, where his research focus is large-scale sequence analysis and the integration of electronic medical records and sequence data to provide insights into basic biology and improve patient outcomes.  Before moving to Regeneron in 2013, Dr. Reid served for over six years as the leader of the next-generation sequencing informatics group at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Reid has been involved in all aspects of high-throughput DNA sequence analysis applications, from the on-instrument primary analysis to algorithm development for data handling, variant calling, annotation, and all analysis steps in between.  Using his experience in early big data analysis research from his work in relativistic heavy-ion collision physics computation in graduate school, Dr. Reid has been a key evangelist for cloud-based genomics. 

What are you working on right now?

My team is extremely focused on making it as easy as possible to analyze and mine the genotype/phenotype data that we have all worked so hard with our collaborators to generate. We always go where the science leads us, so supporting the full range of possible scientific questions across such a large and diverse dataset is an exciting, but difficult problem.

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

Data integration is a big and growing problem for my team. As we complete an ever expanding portfolio of projects, and as they all grow in size and scope, we have to figure out how to create more effective connections between projects and analyses so that we can make more discoveries in the synergies and not just in the isolated scope of each individual project.

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

More samples paired with better phenotype data! We as a field need to dramatically increase the rates of meaningful sample and data collection using broad, unified consents. We’ve got the sequencing tech, and we’re getting better at mining the data at scale, but without people coming together to commit their samples and data to research, the entire field will stall. This is why efforts like the UK Biobank have been so important, and why #AllOfUs and other early million-person-scale cohort building projects need to continue to grow and expand. Until we have the samples and data, the field won’t get at the insights we need to help patients and transform medicine.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of my contributions to the Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC). Going from an idea to becoming one of the most productive sequencing centres in the world in less than four years seemed impossible when we started, but the RGC family of colleagues and collaborators came together and made it work. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a lasting impact on science and medicine, and am incredibly proud of the successes we have achieved at the RGC.

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

I would invite Rosalind Franklin and Alan Turing to dinner – two people who, in spite of sexism and homophobia, made foundational contributions to biology and computer science. They both died far too soon (only four years apart – in 1958 and 1954) to see how their contributions merge and intersect in computational biology and genomics. To me, they laid the foundations of the most important science of the 21st century, and I would love to know what they think of it.

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

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I wish someone had taught me earlier in my training to have a more constructive relationship with failure. Perfection and success can be the enemy of innovation, as failure is often a necessary prerequisite for invention and discovery.

 

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