Bioinformaticians aren’t solely found at universities and research institutions. Farmaceutical companies also depend on bioinformatians. I did my internship at Schering-Plough (currently known as MSD) in the year 2009. Working in a company differs from working at a university, but in the end it all comes down to doing research.

Research always begins with a biological problem and question. This can be the cause of a certain disease or, when this cause is known, trying to find a proper cure for a disease. One can try to answer a biological question by doing experiments in a laboratory, or by using the computer to build a model that helps you in answering the question. During my internship, I used both methods. Toxic substances were administered to rats and seperate livers, and by analysing the livers of these rats with micro-arrays we were able to determine which genes were expressed and which genes weren’t. My work was to analyse these micro-arrays, and compare the gene expression of the rats with the in vitro experiment that only featured the livers.

This experiment was carried out to find out if the effect of a certain substance on the whole body somehow differs from the effect on certain components, the liver in this case, and to study the effect of the substance in general. When the effect is equal for all components, the number of animals used in all kinds of experiments kan be reduced drastically. Besides obvious ethical advantages this can save time and money.

However, answering my biological question was just one part of my internship. It also encompassed working together with other researchers at the department and other institutions. This was great fun, and learning from colleagues also enhanced the speed and efficiency of my own experiments. And besides being able to learn from them, we had a great time during the breaks and discussing soccer and all kinds of other subjects. Apart from the satisfactory results of my research, this contributed to the great time I had at Schering-Plough.