Cutting edge ideas appeal of the Cambridge Bioinformatics Hackathon
“I have two projects and I can’t decide which to bring”, says Kevin Dialdestoro, a software engineer at Genestack, the Cambridge-based biodata management company. He is excited about participating in the first Cambridge Bioinformatics Hackathon, organised by the Babraham Institute Bioinformatics Department. We asked him about what he is bringing to the challenge and why Genestack is sponsoring the hackathon.
Q. Have you participated in a Hackathon or something similar before? Was it very different to your normal way of working?
The last Hackathon I joined was actually also held in Cambridge. It was organised by DNAdigest in 2015 and we were brainstorming ideas for a data recommendation service, a Netflix equivalent for genomics data where two datasets are relevant if they are co-cited in published papers or share similar metadata.
I found it a refreshing learning experience…. a hackathon pulls you away from your daily comfort zone and puts you in with people who are there to both challenge and push your mad ideas into reality.
Q. Is there a particular challenge that you would like to see this hackathon tackle?
Applying deep learning in Bioinformatics is a hot topic nowadays, so I am interested in seeing new demonstrations of its effectiveness, particularly for single cell RNA-Seq.
We should be prepared to deal with the super-exponential growth of single-cell RNA-Seq data. For example, we should be thinking about how to make the best use of the millions of samples coming out of the Human Cell Atlas Project. Deep learning is a promising technique to fully exploit such vast data.
Q. Do you think that the role for a hackathon is to develop skills, to create a better understanding of industry problems, or are there other benefits?
A hackathon encourages us to investigate cutting-edge ideas. These ideas naturally reflect the state of the industry and will point us towards imminent problems to focus our efforts on. Genestack is keen to encourage innovation and by supporting the Babraham Institute with this hackathon we hope that it will be the first of many.
Q. What do you plan to work on in this hackathon?