Our lab aims to understand the genetic mechanism of rare diseases that may lead to rational approaches for therapies. We will focus on interpreting non-coding variants and variants of unknown significance to end the diagnostic odyssey for patients. Another focus will be to train the next generation of scientist building an environment that prioritizes research integrity, excellence and teamwork.
As a group leader I no longer have the time to check every little detail of everyone’s work. It’s important then to have a team that I fully trust in terms of honesty and thoroughness. Ethical behavior unfortunately cannot be taught, if you don’t have strong morales, a few multiple choice questions at the end of CITI training is not going to change that! Fortunately, the majority of times honesty is not an issue and it’s rather thoroughness. We will strive to create an open, nurturing and friendly team environment, where members are encouraged to share mistakes, contradictory results, ask dumb questions and ask questions as many times until they do understand.
“Integrity is about doing the right thing and not necessarily the easy thing.”
If you have made it this far in life, you are already gifted but I believe passion, curiosity and getting stuff done are key components in achieving excellence. Passion to me is rushing in first thing in the morning to see if your bacterial transformation worked, it’s working all of Friday night because your sequencing results that you been waiting all week just came in at 4pm and its waking up early in the morning to prepare for a journal club presentation. Curiosity is wanting to know why things didn’t work, breaking things that already work to understand new things and always questioning things. Lastly, excellence in ideas is fantastic but will go to waste if there is no hard work in getting stuff done. This means constantly bugging that collaborator or sale person until they send you what you need, it means writing that manuscript on the weekend when your friends are at Cape Cod, it means coming in the lab on a Sunday afternoon so that your Monday isn’t wasted, it means planning your time carefully so you have something to present at lab meeting or in your meeting with your mentor. I will acknowledge and reward excellent work and show constant gratitude to team members that are busting their ass.
“Excellence is pretending like you are number #2 wanting to get to number #1 … ALL the time!”
Teamwork is not about being around for the good times but it’s being around during the difficult times and doing the little things when no one is looking! This means watching your team mates practice their presentation for the fifth time, it means coming in early in the morning to prep up reagents for a team mates experiment, it means cleaning up a mess that someone left in the lab instead of just reporting it and it means staying up late at night debugging code with a team mate for their analysis. All projects in our lab will be team projects, where each team member can contribute, develop new skills and which we can share the burden and success as a team. Each team member will unambiguously be assigned a role in each project and will play a leadership role in at least one project.
“Ensuring team members are emotionally secure will allow them to fully concentrate on what they do best.”
The focus on integrity, excellence and teamwork was advice from Professor Christopher Semsarian who lead an awesome lunchtime mentorship forum with trainees during his visit at the Broad Institute.