Getting to know us: Nakib from Ensembl Variation

Meet Syed Nakib Hossain, who joined the Ensembl Variation team in 2021. Read on to learn more about Nakib’s role in the team, what he is currently working on and what he enjoys about working at EMBL-EBI.

When did you join and what is your job in Ensembl?

I joined the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) back in December 2021 as a Bioinformatics Developer. There were still travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, so I joined remotely and started working from home in Bangladesh. Although I started off as remote, the on-boarding process was pretty smooth and I was easily integrated into the team.

I am part of the Ensembl Variation team which focuses on annotating variants, reporting their consequences, and providing associated phenotype and prediction scores through relevant datasets. We generally provide this data via the Ensembl website and REST API platforms. As part of my developer job I focus on developing pipelines and APIs that provide the backbone of these services. We also have a very cool tool called the Variant Effect Predictor (VEP) that is widely popular in the community.

What do you enjoy about your job?

As a developer, the greatest joy comes to me when I see the product that we have worked on is being accepted and appreciated by the community. This is the best part of my job and it means that what I am doing matters and having a positive impact on the community. We get feedback from our users almost everyday, whether it is a bug they want to bring to our attention or a new feature they would like to see. Sometimes the feedback is just an appreciation of how our product has helped them with their work. 

What are you currently working on (e.g. any particular projects, datasets, species)?

My current focus is building the variation infrastructure for the new Ensembl website which is anticipated to be much faster and slim – a very cool thing to look out for! As part of the workflow, I am currently developing pipelines that will match the data for variant display on the site. I am also working on integrating variant data from Darwin’s Tree of Life (DToL) project – which is set to sequence thousands of species’ genomes. These data are submitted to the European Variation Archive (EVA) and we integrate the data into Ensembl through automated processes and pipelines.

What surprised you the most about Ensembl when you started working here?

The diversity. Within just a 9-member team we have people from 6 different countries. It is not just our team but a theme of all of EBI – I got to know many people from different countries from other teams too. It is a great environment to learn about each other’s cultures and traditions. It is the difference between us that makes us come closer as we try to know more about each other.

What did you do before joining Ensembl?

I graduated from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) in 2017. Before joining EMBL-EBI I had experience working as a Software Engineer at Samsung for over 3 and a half years. I was part of the DevOps team in their software R&D centre and was responsible for developing and managing the software build farms and cloud infrastructure for the institute.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am mostly a stay-at-home guy, but I do love to go out to pubs with my colleagues now and then. Sometimes we also go for fun activities like ice skating or watching Shakespeare plays performed on the Cambridge University grounds. I also love cycling and basketball. Whenever I get time, I set off with my bicycle without any destination or go to a nearby basketball court (I am very bad at it but who cares!).

A photograph of Nakib with his wife Korobi standing in front of Big Wheel Cambridge on Parker’s Piece.