Programmers for scientific software? - How do I start?

Helgi Briem helgi at NOSPAMdecode.is
Thu Feb 11 03:50:30 EST 1999

On 11 Feb 1999 02:23:19 GMT, sleepguy at att.net (John G.
Gilligan) wrote:

>I would like to know if anyone can give me any hints as to how to break into 
>the field of computer programming for scientific software?
>I just got my masters degree in Cell Biology (on top of a BS in Chemistry) and 
>I've taken courses (no work experience) in C++, Visual C++ and Visual Basic 
>(which seem to be the languages of choice these days).  (I know that I need to 
>work on UNIX and SQL, but first things first).
>I've worked in labs as a researcher all through my educational career and I 
>have skills that could get me a fairly good position as a lab tech, but I 
>don't want to be stuck behind a lab bench for the rest of my life.  
>Therefore, since I like working with computers, I want to write software for 
>scientific programs - like those that search DNA databases, do structural 
>modeling, etc...
>I know that most programmers enter the financial field (where there is more 
>money to be made) or have a strong math/computer science background.  I feel 
>that my science background makes me a better programmer because I can speak 
>the language of science and I can better design software for the "end user"?
>I've applied for a number of positions as a programmer, but most places want 
>3-4 years worth of programming experience before they even look at your 
>Does anybody have any helpful hints?  Any companies that will train and mentor 
>willing students?
>Should I look at pharmaceutical firms or purely software companies?
>I live in the NYC area, but I would be willing to relocate - since I've seen 
>that most of these jobs cluster in Silicon Valley, CA!
>Thanks in advance!!!

Hi John.  Sounds like a good resume to me.  In this part of
the world programmers are worth their weight in gold ;-)
They get snapped up usually even before they complete 
their studies.  Try doing a web search for dna + software
or molecular+biology+software or bioinformatics.  You will 
find a number of companies in the field.  Try applying to
them.  Of course the governmental and university genome
centres always need programmers, but they probably pay
a lot less.  If you're willing to try Iceland, you might
even give my company, deCODE genetics a try, we do
need programmers, but I can give you no guarantees.
I don't come near hiring in any way, so I can't help 
you in that way.  Good luck,

Helgi Briem   Bioinformatics dept.   deCODE Genetics Inc.
Lynghals 1      IS-110 Reykjavik     Iceland
helgi at decode.is Tel:354-8988261 www.decode.is

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