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Maximilian von der Linde

From Master’s student to seasoned bioinformatician, Maximilian von der Linde has grown a lot during his time at the IMP. He is now a research assistant in the lab of Rushad Pavri. As his project is slowly being wrapped up, Max will be open to work, looking for a new career opportunity as a bioinformatician, specialising in Next Generation Sequencing data.

How did you take up programming?

I did a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Regensburg, Germany, and towards the end of it, I started taking programming classes. I did that because many professors were encouraging us to look into mathematics and computational biology. It’s always been interesting to me to combine two scientific fields that, at first, don’t seem to overlap much. For my Bachelor’s thesis, I already used some of my programming skills: I designed a completely new experiment which, among other things, needed its own user interface that would later be used by other students. That was my first big programming experience. It encouraged me to continue this track, so I started a Master’s degree in bioinformatics at the University of Vienna. I did my thesis project in the lab of Rushad Pavri.

What was your project about?

In our lab, we’re trying to pinpoint how the genome of human B cells changes during the immune response to pathogens like viruses. There’s this complex called Activation-Induced Deaminase or AID, which is responsible for rapid changes in the genome, and rapid change means many mutations, which in turn means a higher risk of developing cancer. The goal of my project was to look at the genome of a specific B cell line and identify the mutations that are induced by AID.

It was a completely new field for me, so I learned a lot during this project. Once I had set up a custom pipeline capable of processing and analysing the large amount of whole genome sequencing data, I noticed that the results we were getting didn’t match what we were supposed to get. It turned out that the experiments that had been set up didn’t conform with the mutation analysis we wanted to run. This was an important hurdle to overcome, and it required a lot of troubleshooting and patience – solving this issue helped me stay motivated throughout the project.

What did you learn in your time here?

I found myself capable of driving such projects, even through tough times. I learned that persistence, adaptiveness, and patience are key to solving issues you can encounter in applied bioinformatics. On the more practical side, I did learn to use a lot of bioinformatics tools that you don’t necessarily learn about at university. Applied bioinformatics in the New Generation Sequencing (NGS) field isn’t something I had dabbled into much before.

What would matter to you in your next job?

So far, I’ve been working closely with an international team of biologists – mostly wet lab scientists. What I’d like for my next position is to be part of a team of bioinformaticians, so that I can get more insights into the field on a daily basis. I would also like to apply the knowledge that I’ve gained in the past years in a bigger organisation, possibly a pharmaceutical company. I find academic research very stimulating as I encounter different challenges every day, but I also look forward to working on a project that has a clear structure, and clear goals that we can work towards as a team. Geographically, I want to stay in the DACH area, as my partner is training as a medical doctor in this region.

I learned that persistence, adaptiveness, and patience are key to solving issues you can encounter in applied bioinformatics.

Maximilian von der Linde

What kind of colleague are you?

I’m definitely a very open and talkative person – maybe not the stereotype of a bioinformatician that people have in mind. It would be great to be part of a team that works closely together, in a very interactive way. There are many purely remote working opportunities for bioinformaticians – that’s not what I would want. I also find it important to solve any conflict occurring in a team, either directly with the people involved, or through a third opinion if needed.

What kind of supervision do you like best?

I’m looking for someone who would be interested enough in the project that they’re always up to date with what I’m doing and take great interest in moving things forward, but who would also give me enough freedom and trust to do what I think is best to get to the finish line. I feel myself capable of this now.

Do you have experience beyond your studies?

I finished my Master’s studies a while back and I’m now working as a bioinformatician in the Pavri Lab. My current project is about the three-dimensional organisation of DNA, and how it influences our locus of interest, the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus, or IgH. In my two years at the IMP, I have learned to collaborate and communicate with scientists of various backgrounds to bring a project from an initial idea to published results. In my latest projects, I’ve been working with NGS data, and I’d like to continue my path in this subfield in the future.

Published in December 2022.