Anja Thormann, Software Developer for Ensembl

Anja Thormann, Software Developer for Ensembl

"Since my first day at EMBL-EBI, I have cherished how friendly, helpful and talented everyone is. I particularly like the lively exchange of knowledge on campus."

Anja Thorman, Software Developer in EMBL-EBI's Ensembl Variation team

Anja Thorman, EMBL-EBI

Q&A with Anja Thormann

How long have you been working at EMBL-EBI?

I have been working here since January 2012 - close to five years. 

What does your job entail?

I’m a software developer in the Ensembl project's variation team. We provide comprehensive variant annotation. I write and run software pipelines that import and integrate variation data. I also help maintain, improve and extend our API, which allows our users to retrieve our data, among other things. I also teach workshops on how to make the best use of our API.

What was your professional background, before you arrived at EMBL-EBI?

I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Bioinformatics from the Free University in Berlin, Germany. Before joining the EBI, I worked in the Bioinformatics group at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, analysing mouse data to study the molecular mechanisms of Type 2 diabetes. 

What attracted you to the role?

Having the opportunity of writing software, providing services and tools for the life-sciences community, and at the same time being close to the latest developments and findings in genomics attracted me most to the role. The improvements in NGS technologies have resulted in large amounts of variation data being generated. Integrating the data and making it available to our users creates interesting challenges for us.

What do you like about working here?

Since my first day at EMBL-EBI, I have cherished how friendly, helpful and talented everyone is. I particularly like the lively exchange of knowledge on campus.

What challenges do you face in your work?

One of the biggest challenges we face is the continuous data growth. We frequently have to develop new solutions that allow us to process data and make our data accessible to our users as fast as possible. The development has to be achieved next to our release cycles, which requires that we prioritise and plan tasks very well. 

What advice would you give someone who was applying for a similar job?

It is very important to be excited about current developments in the field of biology you are working in. This helps your prioritise and guide your developments. Even though the majority of your work might be independent, good communication skills are also very important. It is very important to carefully discuss what needs to be done, and identify potential problems.