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Sayoni Das: Twitter Takeovers

Curated by Sayoni Das Head of Bioinformatics at PrecisionLife Ltd

(@sayoni03) on 28th June 2021

Every week the global OHT Twitter account is curated by a wonderful member of the OHT community. They share with us how they do what they do, what they're interested in, their top tips and general learnings. We like to turn these Tweets into blogs as there is so much goodness in them!

Go on... sign up to curate our account on a Monday know you want to!


Sayoni Das is the Head of Bioinformatics at PrecisionLife Ltd, Oxford, UK. Sayoni has a background in biotechnology and specializes in the analysis of large-scale biological datasets focused on understanding gene function and assessment of the impact of genetic variants. At PrecisionLife, she is working on identifying better, more personalised ways to treat diseases through multi-omics analysis of biomedical and healthcare datasets. Sayoni received her PhD in Computational Biology from UCL for her work on characterising the structural and functional diversity of protein superfamilies and protein function prediction. She served as Secretary for the ISCB Regional Student Group UK from 2014 to 2016. Before transitioning into computational biology, Sayoni did her M.S (Research) in Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering from IIT Delhi, India.


Hello everyone, I’m Sayoni (@sayoni03) and I'll be hosting today's #TwitterTakeover at @One_HealthTech. I am the Head of Bioinformatics at

@precisionlifeAI and I’m really excited to share a bit about me & my transition into data-driven biology-from Proteins to #PrecisionMedicine

I had a lovely time at the @One_HealthTech Virtual Brunch on Saturday. It was great to meet everyone and talk about health data and #digitalhealth. It didn't feel like it was my first #OHT21 event at all.. kudos to OHT for creating such a warm & welcoming environment!

This is what bioinformatics or computational biology is all about. Both the terms are used interchangeably and are often debated, but I prefer to call it data driven biology.

There is a need for computational approaches to integrate, analyse and interpret biological data to enable scientists generate insights from the data available

I am a #bioinformatician (and a biologist at heart). I am particularly fascinated by the complexity and diversity of biological systems. What does a bioinformatician do? by @biocomicals

During my time at the bench, I frequently found myself asking questions like:

Why purify this particular protein

Why do one assay to test function

I was always trying to look for data to check if I was doing the right experiments

These bacteria are of great interest as the bio-nanoparticles created by magnetotactic bacteria can be perfect for targeted drugdelivery. Here’s a link that highlights their use in cancer research: Magnetic bacteria for drug delivery - Advanced Science News

My journey began in India as a biotech engineer working on various experimental projects involving microbiology, molecular biology and protein biochemistry.

I am also a big fan of the beautiful protein artwork created by school children in the #PDBArt project by @PDBeurope . Here's a link to their virtual exhibition: Discover the wonderful world of proteins: first virtual PDB Art exhibition | EMBL’s European Bionformatics Institute (

Talking about proteins, I cannot resist sharing one of my favourite protein images - the enolase protein superfamily structure superposition generated by cath-tools @tony_e_lewis and @iansillitoe ! CATH_Gene3D

Following my interest in data-driven biology, I started applying for PhD in #bioinformatics. It was a bit daunting to apply in a new research field, but I tried to highlight my interests and efforts (attending workshops/courses) as much as I could.

The transition from bench research to #Bioinformatics was challenging for me at first. 1/7

The things which really helped me and made it incredibly rewarding were: amazing supervisor & mentors @CATH_Gene3D & ISMB, supportive research environment, attending coding modules at @bioinfoBBK

@swcarpentry talking to my peers #bioinformatics 2/7

I also found it very helpful to talk to my peers/researchers who also came from very diverse backgrounds and enjoyed being a part of the #computationalbiology student community @ISCBStudentCouncil and

Things I wished I had come across or had access to back then as a student? open source guides for research by @turingway student led #medtech communities such as @MedTechatUCL and @ImperialMedTech

So many online courses/webinars! 4/7

#ComputationalBiologists can mean a lot of things and it took some time for me to find my own niche - one that fits my interests & skills. That is, the right mix of: data analysis biological interpretation algorithm design software/pipeline dev. #bioinformatics 5/7

Monday motivation - Here's a great blog series by @keilie_79

on inspiring women in #bioinformatics in academia and industry Home | Women in Bioinformatics ( 6/7

If you have any questions for me, I am here! Would love to hear your experiences as well. 7/7

After lunch, I will tell you all about my current work in #drugdiscovery and #PrecisionMedicine!

I was eager to widen my horizons into systems biology approaches for #drugdiscovery and work in an innovative environment where the focus was on #patients - I found my perfect match at @precisionlifeAI

As a postdoc, while analysing the effect of genetic variants in proteins, I really got fascinated by the complexity of disease biology. This led me to my second transition – into #translationalresearch. #bioinformatics

Here’s a great article that envisions how precision medicine will impact patient care and clinical research over the next decade: #PrecisionMedicine

By increasing the chance that patients will get the right drug first time, #PrecisionMedicine can reduce the cost of delivering care at the same time as maximizing patient benefit.

Precision medicine is predicated on being able to identify which patients will respond to a specific drug (and which won’t). #PrecisionMedicine

Dr. Steve Gardner @showcasebio ’s (@precisionlifeAI CEO) poker analogy in this research article illustrates the value of identifying combinatorial influences really well: Combinatorial analytics: An essential tool for the delivery of precision medicine and precision agriculture - ScienceDirect

This enables us to uncover more risk loci and targets, and identify patient subpopulations who are most likely to benefit from them. #PrecisionMedicine#drugdiscovery

Even as we are on the verge of finishing a complete human genetic map, we still have limited understanding of the complex interaction of genes and other factors in many chronic diseases. Closing in on a complete human genome (

I work very closely with our disease biology, data science, software development and information security teams to generate novel targets and patient stratification insights from disease datasets in compliance with health data standards. 1/3

There is no better way to do #healthdata research than having a team with #diversity where everyone shares the drive to make a difference! 2/3

#Diversity is always on our minds at work – from cognitive diversity and diverse skill sets to diversity in #data. Here is a blog article by my colleague Dr. Jason Sardell which talks about the applicability of results in diverse #patient populations: 3/3

Here is an article by @HDR_UK about health data integration in UK: I have enjoyed being a part of the HDR_UK

Gateway Development and Improvement Group workshops discussing new features, here's a link if you want to get involved:

The ongoing pandemic has also changed how the world does #science - #together. It has led to unprecedented collaborative initiatives for therapeutic solutions.

It is such an exciting time to be a working in #biotech, #healthtech, #compbio, #digitalhealth, #medtech, as we are living through a revolution in biology – driven by the rapid progress in high-throughput tech, automation, and computational methods.

It was also great to be able to contribute to the COVID-19 PHARMACOME project led by @ApitiusHofmann @fraunhofer_scai

We were able to replicate our findings around the potential role of calcium and lipid homeostasis in severe #COVID19 using clinical and claims data from @OptumLabs.

I get the opportunity to collaborate with clinicians, academics and other industry partners in various disease areas including #COVID19

#ALS patient stratification study, which benefits from the expert insights of @AmmarAlChalabi and his team @AlfredoIacoange @AhmadAlKhleifat

Some of the other exciting projects that my team and I are currently working on are #PrecisionMedicine approaches for #Endometriosis and #ALS.

The @FEMaLeEUProject, which is led by @MetteNyegaard involving 15 collaborators across EU including @precisionlifeAI, aims to improve diagnosis, prevention and care of #endometriosis.

That’s all from me today. I had a great time interacting with you all. Hope you all have enjoyed hearing about #bioinformatics, #proteins and #PrecisionMedicine. Hope to see some of you at an #OHT21 event really soon. Till then, good bye and stay safe!


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