Interview with Mojib Javadi, Associate Director, Program Development at Indoc Research

 

Dr. Mojib Javadi is the Associate Director, Program Development at Indoc Research, a not-for-profit company that helps medical research teams manage, share and analyze data. He received his PhD from the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto and completed his NSERC industrial R&D post-doctoral fellowship with Aptose Biosciences Inc., formerly known as Lorus Therapeutics Inc.

  • Please describe how you launched your career path.

My transition from completing my PhD in an academic setting to an industry post-doctoral fellowship was a natural transition as both positions entailed studying same small molecule kinase inhibitors as cancer therapeutics. However, while I enjoyed the opportunity to continue and expand scientific discoveries in the same field, I quickly realized that bench work is not what I wanted for my career. Thankfully, I’ve always had an interest in business so I had taken several business courses including mini-MBA during my graduate and post-graduate years; leveraging this experience, I reached out to the business development officers at various companies and organizations to learn about opportunities available.

From these conversations, I became aware of a new initiative that aimed to train individuals how to manage science and landed a Management Fellow position at the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI). During my informational interviews, it was clear that individuals who had the most interesting careers are those who took risks in taking on challenging positions that allowed them to work in new fields and build new expertise. The management fellowship provided me such an opportunity. I was expecting my Management Fellow position to focus on business development in science, but to my surprise, I was placed with the informatics team. The six months I spent at OBI and another six months at the Ontario Cancer Biomarker Network (OCBN) opened my eyes to the world of data management and informatics, a field I was previously unfamiliar with but became fascinated with. Eventually, these experiences led me to my current position at Indoc Research, which evolved from OCBN.

  • What does your role, as an Associate Director portfolio at Indoc Research, entail?

In a nutshell, Indoc Research has developed a centralized informatics platform, to enable data management, federation, query, analysis and sharing. In my role, I bridge the gap between our development team and investigators/clinicians which we provide services to. Over the course of my 4+ years with Indoc Research – first as a Manager for Scientific Program Development then as a the Molecular Data Lead and currently as the Associate Director of Program Development – I’ve gone from having no computer science background to learning core concepts of informatics and data management. Managing various relationships is a big portion of my responsibilities, so my time is split between working with our development team to develop new services and products, as well as writing and contributing to grants for new initiatives.

 

  • What skills are necessary to be successful as a Manager for Scientific Program Development?

Previous experience and related skills in project management is integral for this position. This includes, but is not limited to, learning concepts around people/resource management and staying up-to-date in the field you want to be in. Knowing about the key players in the field, identifying companies you are interested and learning about the technology stacks they are using and how that fits into the current market will definitely get you a head start when it comes to finding a position.

 

  • What are the most rewarding/challenging/unexpected aspects of your position?

The most rewarding aspect of my position is that no two days are the same, which means that there is always an opportunity for you to learn something new while making tangible impact at a fast pace. However, this also comes with the caveat that learning requires a lot of time and dedication; technology changes fast so it can be challenging to keep up with the latest advancements in the field. Finally, the most unexpected aspect of working in this field is realizing that there are so many things you can do in science beyond what you are officially trained to do during your graduate studies – this is exciting though, because the possibilities are limitless!

  • What are the types of entry-level positions that students should aim for to get experience necessary for your kind of career/company?

I would say a Data Manager position would be an excellent “entry-level” position: this job requires you to learn how to build electronic case report forms (eCRFs) and databases, ultimately supporting researchers. R and Python are key in this field, so learning these languages may help set yourself apart from the other applicants.


  • What should students consider in preparation for job searching?

Ask yourself: have you done your homework well? This includes digging into LinkedIn and searching who works there, being able to match your own skillsets to the job description, preparing questions for the interviewer and structuring your answers to the generic interview questions (conflict resolution, time management, strengths/weaknesses etc.) in the context of the company you are applying for. Being thoroughly prepared can help you stand out from all the other applicants, and these are the very things I also look at when I am interviewing/hiring.

 

  • How do you imagine research/health informatics progressing in the future?

Since currently, clinical data and research data are largely being collected differently, I think the focus will be on more integrated approaches to health and medical research data, and providing shared resources to more Canadian research institutions. Another key advancement will be in making sure data are accessible and consistent across all fields. This is ultimately the goal we are working towards at Indoc Research. For more information about Indoc Research, our initiatives, and open positions, please visit https://indocresearch.org/

Interview by LSCDS Exec Member Yoojin Choi

Yoojin is a PhD candidate in the department of immunology, pursuing her research in the lab of Dr. Rupert Kaul. She is interested in a career in Medical Affairs or higher education.. She can be found on LinkedIn here.