A New Job at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Dear Readers of The Chemical Statistician,

You may have noticed that I have blogged less frequently in the past few months; this has been due to a major change in my career: I recently accepted a new job in the Laboratory Program at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence (BC-CFE) in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver!

Eric Cai - Official Head Shot

A bioinformatician who works in this group recommended me for this position to his supervisors during this past summer.  Having lived in Vancouver before, I have heard a lot about the work that the BC-CFE in HIV/AIDS has done for many years to improve the lives of HIV and AIDS patients and prevent HIV transmission.

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to combine my passions in statistics and chemistry to study HIV/AIDS at the genetic and biochemical levels, and I was even more excited to learn how this group has been using machine learning to study bioinformatics and phylogenetics.  I had no idea that machine learning has such a big role in these 2 fields in biology!  I gladly accepted the position, but it resulted in a long process of leaving Toronto and settling into a new home in Vancouver while diving into my new job relatively quickly.  I am still adjusting to my new home and getting used to my new job, but I am very happy to be here.

My main role so far has been to provide analytical support in statistics and math for the research and clinical testing that our lab’s 30 biologists and chemists actively perform everyday; this has involved extensive use of generalized linear models, survival analysis, logistic regression, and non-linear regression, as well as programming in R and SAS.  I have also learned to use a surprising amount of clever data manipulation in Microsoft Excel, and my brief experience in my job so far has taught me to use all available tools to clean and process data as needed.  I have recently begun using bioinformatics to study next-generation sequencing, and I look forward to learning more bioinformatics and phylogenetics in the near future.

I aim to resume my weekly blogging frequency as I gradually settle into a good routine.  As I am learning many new things in my job and am closer to chemistry again, I aim to use this experience as inspiration for my blog posts.  I also aim to get involved in the statistics and analytics community in Vancouver, in British Columbia, and in nearby Seattle.  I was fortunate to meet so many wonderful and smart people in statistics, analytics and machine learning in Toronto, and I am sad to have left that community.  At the same time, I am excited to be part of the welcoming and productive Laboratory Group the BC-CFE in HIV/AIDS, and I look forward to this next great phase of my intellectual and professional adventure!

I have already attended 2 meetings of the Vancouver Biostatistics User Group (VanBUG), and I look forward to the upcoming Vancouver SAS User Group (VanSUG) meeting.  Both of these groups meet at the BC Cancer Research Centre, so please feel free to come up and say “Hello!” if I ever meet you there in person!

My deepest thanks to all of you who visit my blog.  I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my knowledge on this platform so far, and I am ecstatic about the growth that The Chemical Statistician (both the blog and I) will undergo in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Sincerely, Your Chemical Statistician.

Eric Cai

Your thoughtful comments are much appreciated!

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