Supporting bioinformatic research all over Sweden


By entering different research groups for a time, Anna Johansson shares her expertise with the whole research society.

Anna Johansson describes her role at SciLifeLab’s facility Bioinformatics Long-term Support (WABI) as a kind of research consultant.

– Me and my colleagues function as a national resource, so researchers in all of Sweden can apply for our help. We enter a project and work for three months full time, even though it can be spread out over a longer period of time.

She is a bioinformatician, which means that she works with biological data. Usually her mission is to analyze and interpret data that the research group has produced, or to find the right approach for how to develop the project further.

WABI is co-financed by SciLifeLab and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Therefore, the research groups don´t need to pay for the time that Anna Johansson is working on their projects.

The projects applying for support by the bioinformaticians at WABI is evaluated by an external scientific committee, which decides which projects should be prioritized. It is also a requirement that someone in the research group is actively involved in the data analysis, so that they can discuss the project with Anna Johansson and her colleagues, and thereby exchange knowledge between WABI and the research group. The researchers are also welcome to work a couple of days with Anna Johansson at her office to be able to join in and learn from the process.

Anna Johansson enjoys to enter ongoing projects as a resource.

– I am joining the projects in a very exciting phase since a lot of the groundwork is already done. They have all the data, they have defined their project and usually they have also performed initial analyses. I am entering in the step where more advanced analyses are needed and where you can really reach biologically interesting results. Usually the research group has access to biological data with great potential, but don’t have the possibility to take it to the next level by themselves. Then I can really make a difference in the project.

Each project is assigned two bioinformaticians, one who is primarily responsible for the project and one who functions as extra support. Anna Johansson thinks that one of the strengths with gathering several bioinformaticians under the same roof is that they can work together even though they are in different projects.

– Since we are several experts working next door to each other it becomes easy for us to help each other out, test ideas and benefit from each other’s competence. It is much more effective than solving a problem all on your own.

Anna Johansson has been on part-time parental leave with her one-year-old son until the turn of the year, but now she is back at work full-time and has also gotten started on her rugby training again. She is a member of Uppsala Rugby club where the pre-season training is under way for the upcoming matches during spring and summer.

This summer she will also organize several courses in bioinformatics.

– A lot of people want to learn how to analyze their own data so we provide them with a toolbox for it.

Short facts:
Name: Anna Johansson
Profession:  Bioinformatician at SciLifeLab’s facility Bioinformatics Long-term Support (WABI).
Leisure activities/hobbies: Playing rugby and being outdoors, running, mountain biking, hiking and skiing.
What you didn’t know about Anna Johansson: She can be convinced to join most projects and adventures as long as there is coffee and cake.

Published March 2014
Sara Engström