Jochen Singer – Laureate of the 2019 Swiss Bioinformatics Graduate Paper Award


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Jochen Singer received the award for his paper “Single-cell mutation identification via phylogenetic inference” published together with his colleagues from Niko Beerenwinkel’s lab of the ETH Zurich in Nature Communications in 2018. Currently, Jochen Singer is working as a bioinformatician at Novartis in Basel. He is mostly involved in software development and pipeline design, but at the same time still very close to cutting edge technologies, such as spatial transcriptomics and single cell sequencing.


About our interview series “Meet the past SIB Awards Laureates”

The SIB Bioinformatics Awards will be presented for the 11th time, providing a great occasion to reach out to past laureates and ask them where they are now in their career. In this interview, we met with Jochen Singer, Laureate of the 2019 Swiss Bioinformatics Graduate Paper Award.

At which point of your career were you when you received the SIB Award? How did it feel? What was the key interest of your research at this time point?

I just finished my PhD and started working in my new job when I received the notification of the award. Of course I was very happy and honoured. Winning the price was wonderful and gave me a great deal of motivation and self confidence. My main interest was developing efficient solutions for the analysis of high-throughput sequencing data, in particular for single cell sequencing data of tumor samples. 

What are your current research interests?

Although I am not any longer part of a research group, I am still working on the data analysis of cutting edge sequencing technologies. My job is a very nice mix of, on the one hand, providing technical support for the associated sequencing lab, like setting up analysis pipelines and quality control automation, and on the other hand, dealing with the analysis of a wide variety of experiment types. For me, this is a great position without the pressure to publish high-impact papers, while still being part of the fascinating research world!

In your personal opinion, what is the single most fascinating discovery made possible by bioinformatics?

That’s a tough one! Nowadays bioinformatics is part of many different research fields, ranging from storing information in DNA to disease monitoring via liquid biopsies. Therefore, it is not really possible for me to choose a single discovery. However, I am still amazed about the progress made when it comes to patient treatment. In fact, bioinformatics is key in the field of personalised medicine and for instance enables identifying the targets for personalised cancer treatment or even curative gene therapies.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My daughter is keeping me busy ;-) And apart from that I like skiing and doing sports in general. 

Any words for the future generation of bioinformaticians?

I am still amazed by how fast the significance of bioinformatics has accelerated in the past years, and I expect it to be more important still in the future. Bioinformatics has already changed the way we analyse and diagnose diseases in the research world, and it is just a matter of time that these changes will also push through in clinical practice. As bioinformaticians we are living in an extremely fascinating and fast moving time, bridging the fields of computer science and biology. So keep in mind: our greatest asset is the expertise in both domains, so avoid tunnel vision and do not underestimate the importance of both the bio- and -informatics knowledge.