Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coming full circle

So I have some downtime in the hospital with my son and don't really have much motivation to do anything at the, why not blog?

I've been hired recently by Vanderbilt University's Center for Human Genetic Research in which I'll be responsible for some super sweet SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms or "snips") searching mechanisms and I will also be responsible for creating a service for sharing this information with other universities in what I can only think of as a "genetic research alliance" of sorts.

I am really looking forward to see what I learn and can apply to this job, hopefully I can put something together that helps the researchers here find something useful for humanity or even just my son!

What I've found amazing thus far is how much of an educational investment they (Vanderbilt) are willing to pump into you if you are up to it. They allow for "auditing" of classes which pertain to your field of work, so for me (from what I understand) I'll be auditing a biological statistics class and a genetics class come January (or whenever the next semester starts, but I think that's right).

This whole realm of genetic information has really put my mind at work in terms of storage (we are talking petabytes here) and retrieval. Something that's crossed my mind is the thought of consistent hashes almost like bookmarks in an individual's sequence. I'm sure there are flaws in thinking of it this way, but hey, it's a start. And if nothing else, I'll learn more from the failures anyways.

Which leads me to my next exciting topic. Since it is research work, there is of course the possibility of trying out some of the non-standard (read: "new fangled and non-relational") storage systems in order to see if they function better for searches over current methods. Sounds like a real drag, eh?

Hopefully I can regurgitate more than less in regard to the specifics of what I'm working on in the coming years. The amount of data and the structures within it are truly a rather amazing challenge the more I think about them.

Time for the rambling to end, it's almost time for T's late night bath - we're up to every 12 hours to wash the chemo off of him now, so that's one of the first steps towards getting him home.