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Career development for bioinformatics

Sign up here, and read about the DKFZ/HUB Career Day: Bioinformatics that took place just before this HUB, via EventBrite, if you plan to attend!

Get involved in organising this and other HUBs!

What? Career development for bioinformatics

When? Friday May 23rd 2014, 18:30 - 21:00

Where? DKFZ Comunications Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg.

Who? A team of people working at several different life-science organisations within Heidelberg are organising HUB, with your help (just get in touch or add your comments to this page).

Social media To keep track of people you've met at HUB, join the HUB LinkedIn group, and tweet us on @HUBioinformatic and/or with the hashtag #hub_hd.


18:30 18:45 Introduction to networking for career development [presentation] Aidan
18:45 19:15 Ice Breaker - 1:1 networking [group activity] Aidan
19:15 19:45 Skype with Cape (Town) Unseminars in Bioinformatics organisers Adam
19:45 20:00 What do I want from my next job? introduction to self-assessment [presentation and group activity] Aidan
20:30 20:50 Peer mentoring; supporting each other in career development [group activity] Aidan
21:00 onwards... To the pub i.e. Cafe Botanik.

HUB11 Event Report

Bioinformatics career development was a focus of several events last Friday in Heidelberg, all taking place at the DKFZ Communications Centre on the Neunheimerfeld campus.

During the day, the DKFZ Careers Service, with help from HUB, organised the DKFZ/HUB Career Day on Bioinformatics.

In the morning, this focused around presentations from and discussions with three different recruiters with open positions (, Blue Yonder, and accantec consulting AG). These were complemented by a presentation by Barbara Janssens, Career Manager at the DKFZ, giving excellent insights into and tips on a range of aspects of job hunting and applications.

The afternoon focused on presentations from people working in a wide range of different bioinformatics-related, or for-which-a-bioinformatics-training-would-qualify-you-to-work-in jobs, for example: freelance web and bioinformatics developer, junior professor, biocurator, bioinformatics product sales. These presentations were complemented by hour-long coffee breaks, organised to give participants as much opportunity as possible to meet and discuss with presenters and recruiters.

After a short break (with snacks generously provided by CellNetworks, many thanks for that), we kicked off with an unseminar focused on using our professional networks to help with career development, organised by HUB, with support from the DKFZ career service.

The first activity introduced examples of ways we can think about networking in a professional context, and focused on the interaction of going up to someone you don't know at a scientific meeting and introducing yourself to them. Participants role-played this interaction in groups of three, giving each other feedback on the experience from the point of view of the person approaching, approached, and a third-party observer.

After this, we were very excited to link up, for the first time, live, at a HUB meeting, with colleagues in Cape Town, who have started up the Cape Unseminars in Bioinformatics series. We were very pleasantly surprised that the set up, using Skype and a set of portable microphones, worked without problems - we could all see each other, and we asked each other several questions about our motivations, lessons we've learnt from the events we've organised, and things we could do in the future together. This went on for 20 minutes, at which point we moved on, due to time constraints. Several participants in Heidelberg commented that they would have enjoyed it going on longer; many of us shared a difficult-to-place excitement at being able to interact with our colleagues, so far away, so easily. The next CUB will be on June 5th 2014 "Like I'm Five", and if possible we'll return the experience, and meet up somewhere in Heidelberg to Skype with the CUBers on Thursday 5th.

CUB have set up a CUB group on LinkedIn, as a subgroup of the HUB LinkedIn group; depending on how things develop, we may merge the two to be one "big" LinkedIn group e.g. titled STUB (*UB). This is an easy way to get in touch with them i.e. joining the same LinkedIn group.

The second activity focused on self-assessment i.e helping us think, introspectively, about ourselves, and the kinds of (work) activities that interest us/we enjoy doing; asking ourselves (and answering!) these kinds of questions can clearly be helpful in finding an appropriate career direction (clearly an ideal job would involve all and only activities we're interested in). Participants were pointed to the myIDP: my individual development plan website that provides several questionnaires of this type, and also lists of the activities found in different kinds of jobs, providing some help in matching your individual interests, skills, and values, to different kinds of careers available.

The final activity introduced the idea of peer mentoring, in which people with similar interests/career goals meet to help each other set targets for their own career development trajectory, with the plan of meeting regularly to help keep track of and support each other in pursuing their career goals. To do this, after a short presentation, participants clustered according to the kind of career direction they hope to take in the future, formed groups of 3-5 people, introduced themselves to each other, and help each other set "SMART" goals for their career development.

In a final wrap-up whole-group discussion, we got lots of positive feedback about the unseminar; in particular, everyone had met someone new that evening, and many people indicated they found the introduction to new ways of thinking about and promoting professional networking, to be useful for them.

We then took the networking activities further, as the unseminar finished, moving to the nearby student bar "Cafe Botanik.

Directions from DKFZ to Cafe Botanik

Leave DKFZ by the west exit, turn right, walk about 80m, turn left past Sparkasse, walk another 20m and Cafe Botanik will be on your right. (Map from openstreetmap.)

Task List

A list of tasks that need to be done on or before the meeting day. Just sign your name to say that you'll do a task, and the same again when the task is done. Please note that this doesn't mean you have to do the task on your own, just that you'll make sure that it's done.

To arrange before evening Person responsible Done
List of registered people
Drinks, cups, honesty box Matt
Signs to help people find the room
Create the poster Bronagh Done
Print and display poster where relevant, and send mails to bioinformaticians in these places
  • BioQuant: Matt
  • ZMBH: Matt
  • EMBL: Holger
  • DKFZ:
  • Cellzome: Christine?
  • EMBO:
  • ...
  • BioQuant: Matt
  • ZMBH: Matt
  • EMBL: Holger
  • DKFZ:
  • Cellzome:
  • EMBL:
  • ...
Advertise on linkedin
Computer to use with the projector
Send reminder email
Stickers and pens (for name badges) Holger/Bronagh
Coordinate with DKFZ about AV equipment for Skyping with Cape Town (moving mics, beamer, sound system)
Advertise to HUB mailing list
Talk with DKFZ about telling Career Day particiapnts to sign up for HUB if they're interested in coming Aidan
Find good time in program for Cape Towners Skype Aidan Aidan
Record a video/audio interview with Cape Towners before the event, and bring it on the evening Aidan Aidan

To do on the evening Person responsible Done
Open the room
Arrange tables/chairs for small-group work
Hang up signs to the room
Welcome attendees and give them stickers/badges to put on, and record name and email details of people not registerd on the wiki Holger
Setup Network/Connectivity
Collect flashtalks etc. on master computer
MC/Chair the meeting Aidan
Tidy and close room

Planning Meetings

Planning meeting will be advertised here and on our calendar. We'd be very happy for you to come along and help make HUB11 a success.

Possible topics being considered:

  • Career/soft skills see this Nature article [1]
  • code an open-source bioinformatics tool together
  • using social media for bioinformatics
  • UX (user experience) for bioinformatics
  • career development/advice for bioinformaticians
  • training the bioinformatics trainer
  • working with (editing) wikipedia for bioinformatics
  • publishing large biological datasets

Possible activities/formats to include:

  • powerpoint karaoke
  • lean coffee [2]

Planning Meeting 20.03.2014, Marstall

Aidan, Bronagh, Holger, Jon, Thomas

we tried the "lean coffee" system to find possible topics for HUB11 as well as general topics that need discussion. It is simple to use and worked really well!

List of topics that were discussed

Career Day
  • contact Barbara
  • Should it be done at DKFZ or at Bioquant?
  • early afternoon till evening (1400/1500 - 1900/2000)
  • maybe do an extended pictionary and other HUB stuff?
  • fix date ASAP


Currently, HUB lacks a proper imprint, Jon & Holger are working on this and will compile a minimal version (which makes the not-for-profit status clear) to put up as soon as Matt is back. Will check with lawyers if extended version is needed...

Luzy & Antonio (EMBL) might be able and willing to help


While discussing and looking into the Imprint issue, we figured it might be a good idea to form a club (german 'Verein') to protect ourselves from legal responsibilities. Holger will look into this... We need:

  • Satzung
  • Mitgliederversammlung
  • Mitgliedsantrag
Reproducible Research

Aidan is in contact with Francis Rowland who'll give another UX seminar later this year at EMBL. We might be able to get hime to do similar thing at a HUB for everybody.

Might not coincide with pre-fixed date, though...

Wikipedia Challenge

Let's contact Jelena and others if they're interested in reporting back from the Wikipedia challenge. Could be just a 10 minute flash talk, could be a full blown HUB giving insight into how to edit pages, what to look out for, what mechanisms are employed behind the scenes (bots), etc. Aidan to contact them.

Big Data

This topic might be well suited for the Career Day @DKFZ

Train The Bioinformatics Trainer

Vicky Schneider (Holger and Jon know her - extrovert Argentinian-Italian friend who is head of training at the UK DFG-for-molecular-biology-equivalent-funded genomics/bioinformatics institute) used to give train-the-trainer courses for people at EMBL-EBI. Aidan will invite her to give one day of this at EMBL, either:

  • June 9 - 13
  • August
  • Sep 1 - 3

If she comes, she'd be happy to be part of/lead a HUB focused on this topic.

CapeTown Unseminars

If Natasha in Cape Town is free, and we can get Interweb working, we could invite her to dial in via Skype (or record a video and send it to us) to describe in 10 minutes the meeting they had in Cape Town recently, for the next HUB?

List of topics that couldn't be discussed but have been proposed

Open data
Using "agile methods" eg lean coffee
Finalize the topic list (at end of HUB session)
Soft Skills
Choose an open source project to work on together
Should HUB have a blog ?

Bronagh suggested to have a blog (wordpress ...) as part of our social media outreach