Blog Post

Nelly Vardazaryan

Nelly is an MSc student in Molecular and Cell Biology at ISEC NAS RA. She joined ABI in the summer of 2021 as a student of OMICS School and continued her path by becoming a student in the ABI Research School. Now, Nelly works under the supervision of Anna Hakobyan (Ph.D. student at Max Perutz Labs, Austria) on research on Oncogenic pathway alterations across large-scale cancer studies. Nelly is also conducting microbiome research under the supervision of Lilit Nersisyan (researcher at ABI) in collaboration with Yerevan State University.

Nelly identified one of her long-term goals as becoming a researcher in the field of genomics. According to her, ABI is not only her source for bioinformatics education, but one of the factors that motivates her to work consistently towards her goal.

Besides professional development through data analysis, one of the main branches of her activities is gaining scientific thinking. According to Nelly, participating in weekly Group Meetings and Journal Clubs helps her develop a scientific mindset through constant cooperation with scientists in the field, discussions, and exchange of experience. Specifically, the collaborative work with scientists from different countries and backgrounds helps her be aware of the new technologies and methodologies in the field.  

Nelly’s experience and story inspire the many students who wish to learn more about this large and fascinating field of science. If you identify yourself as one of those people, you could be the next research student at ABI. 

Tatevik Jalatyan

Today we introduce Tatevik Jalatyan, one of ABI’s most engaged and exceptional students. Tatevik is a BSc student at the American University of Armenia and studies the bioinformatics branch of Data Science. She joined ABI in the summer of 2021 and shortly after got engaged in a research project in collaboration with Erik Aznauryan (postdoctoral fellow at Church lab, Wyss Institute, Harvard University) as part of ABI’s Mentor and Mentee program. The project is on discovery new viral vectors for gene delivery. For her hard work, Tatevik has also been rewarded with a six-month research scholarship by ARPA Institute, allowing her to dedicate more time to science.

To the question of how studying at ABI helps her achieve her career goals, Tatevik answered:

All the ABI activities that I participate in help me develop professionally. In particular, the research project that I am engaged in allows me to understand more about the role and implementation of bioinformatics tools in real-world problems. Also, the GMs and JCs help me to get familiar with the ongoing research of the field.

When talking about her long-term goals and ABI’s contribution to their fulfillment, Tatevik said:

By studying at ABI, I get closer to my future profession. Here I get to know many professionals of the field and acquire theoretical and practical knowledge essential to continue my path in bioinformatics.

Tatevik also stated that work at ABI is particularly meaningful to her, since:

ABI gives me an irreplaceable experience for which I am very thankful.

Tatevik’s story and amazing achievements are inspiring for the many students who also wish to explore the fascinating world of science. If you identify yourself as one of those people, you could be the next research student at ABI.

Let us introduce Mher Kurghinyan, one of ABI’s active and hard-working students.

Mher is a 2nd year BSc student at Yerevan State Medical University. He joined ABI in the summer of 2021 for OMICSS and continued his learning process at ABI by regularly participating in Journal Clubs and weekly seminars. Later, Mher joined ABI Research School to do a project on signaling pathways states in health and disease with integrative genomics under the supervision of Siras Hakobyan, Ph.D. Student, Institute of Molecular Biology NAS RA. 

To the question of how working with ABI helps him develop professionally, Mher answered: 

“How does bioinformatics help a medical student? This might seem a confusing question. I would say that, first of all, bioinformatics is a science, and it requires logical thinking and a good foundation in mathematics and biology. By doing bioinformatics, I not only promote scientific thinking but also keep up with developing technologies. Computer sciences are undergoing rapid evolution, and to be a good doctor or medical scientist in the future, I find bioinformatics skills fundamental.”

Mher shared his viewpoint on some of the advantages of ABI:

“Studying at ABI is a great experience. As a 2nd year BC student, I do not become a seasoned scientist or increase my chances of employment, but instead acquire research experience. I meet scientists, participate in knowledge exchanges, have access to many resources, etc.”

Mher also shared his long-term goals with us and how the experience and knowledge he got from ABI contribute to those goals:

“For really long-term goals, I plan to conduct my research after graduating from university in 4-5 years. The experience at ABI will make it easier to perform it more skillfully and produce a decent project. Now that I know about bioinformatics, I can conduct a proper statistical analysis for my project, visualize things, do a lot of different stuff with numbers and make it all happen easier than if I had to do it from scratch. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I won’t practice science until then; if I make it, I’ll explore science before graduating.”

Mher is one of the many remarkable students at ABI who work to expand the scope of their knowledge and strive to make the world a better place. If you believe in making a change and are passionate about science, you could be the next research student at ABI.

As the amount of data derived from novel technologies grows at unprecedented rates in genomics,  biotech, and biomedicine, life scientists find themselves in need of developing the essential skills of data analysis and bioinformatics. 

Such is the case of Dr. Erik Aznauryan, a postdoctoral fellow at Church lab, Wyss Institute in Harvard University. Erik’s research focuses on the development of gene therapies for skin diseases. His work involves both lab experimentation and genomic data analysis. Erik not only wanted to outsource these analyses to other groups but also to acquire the relevant bioinformatics skills himself. That is where the collaboration between Erik and the Armenian Bioinformatics Institute (ABI) sparked. 

Now let’s introduce Tatevik Jalatyan. A senior BSc student in Data Sciences (Bioinformatics track) at the American University of Armenia. Tatevik joined ABI in the summer of 2021. After a couple of introductory courses, Tatevik got engaged in Erik’s research. She performs the data analysis part of the project under Dr. Lilit Nersisyan’s supervision at ABI and transfers her skills to Erik. At the same time, Tatevik had the opportunity to start her first exciting research project and learn a lot from Erik. 

And it gets even more exciting. Based on the promising start of the project, the ARPA Institute, ABI’s loyal partner, provided Tatevik with a six-month-long research scholarship to fully dedicate her time to science.

Tatevik Jalatyan
Research Student at ABI
Data Science Student at AUA

To the question about her expectations on the program, Tatevik answered: 

“This cooperation is very beneficial, especially for me, as I get to work with a highly skilled professional in the field. I expect that this program will not only enhance my knowledge and skills but will be useful for my mentor and his scientific research as well.”

Erik’s enthusiasm and passion are as strong as Tatevik’s. To the request to share his perspectives on the project, Erik responded: 

For me, the main goal is to learn the foundations of bioinformatics and help Tatevik understand the real-world implementation of the knowledge she is acquiring at ABI. In the long run, the ultimate goal would be to help create a collaborative relationship between the lab I am in now and the ABI, which would allow for more such projects in the future. The primary expectation for this program is to create a mutually beneficial collaboration that would allow for the development of bioinformatics skills on both sides while working on an exciting project that would lead to a significant advancement of the current knowledge.

Erik Aznauryan
Postdoctoral Fellow
Church lab, Wyss Institute
Harvard University

The ABI Mentor & Mentee program is a wonderful opportunity for life science postdoctoral researchers around the world to acquire bioinformatics training for their projects. If you are a life scientist, and if you think you can benefit from this initiative, you are welcome to apply with your project.