This week we are delighted to welcome Dr Tim Smith (@tim_d_smith), Scientific Programs Manager at the Human Variome Project to Real Scientists. Tim
majored in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Melbourne, before pursuing a PhD seeking novel methods for supporting the work of genetic variation database curators. Tim has been an honorary fellow of the University of Melbourne Department of Pathology since 2012. Previously he was the Project Manager and Laboratory Liaison Officer for the Human Variome Project Australian Node. The Australian Node is a national data sharing facility that automatically collects and shares information about genetic variations in the Australian population. We asked Tim our usual set of questions and here he is in his own words.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve always loved figuring out how things worked. There wasn’t a single thing my parents could give me that I wouldn’t eventually take apart and try and put back together.
As I moved through school and uni I worked out that the Human cell is a fascinating machine and that got me into the world of genomics. What keeps me here is figuring out why and how things go wrong with that machine, and more importantly, why we haven’t come up with better ways to share and communicate those things once we’ve figured them out.
I work for the international coordinating office of the Human Variome Project as their scientific programs manager. The Human Variome Project is an international organisation working to build capacity in the practice if responsible genomics around the world and get more information about the changes in our genes and the impact on our health published openly on the internet so that diagnosis and treatment of disease becomes cheaper and faster. My work involves overseeing the progress of our 1100+ members in 81 countries as they create and improve public databases, create data sharing networks and develop ethical approaches to data sharing that respect a range of social and legal issues.
For your individual genetic makeup to be used when making decisions about your health and health care, we need to know a lot more about the human genome in general. The only way we’ll find out more is through more research. But research requires data. Thousands of labs around the world are generating useful data every day as part of routine clinical practice. If we can make this data available, we can make a world of difference to research and clinical care.
When I have time, which is not often, I work in live theatre, either as a stage manager, production manager or lighting designer.
Ideal Day Off: A quiet spot to read something not science related, catching up on my favourite TV shows and then going to dinner and a show with my wife.
Please welcome Tim Smith to Real Scientists!