We hope you’re enjoying our employee profile series! Today we have the pleasure of catching up with Deanna Church, Vice President for Mammalian Business Area and Software Strategy. She holds a PhD in genomics, genetics, and molecular biology from the University of California, Irvine.
What’s your role at Inscripta?
I have a dual role right now where I’m providing the customer voice for the mammalian platform that’s in development and also working to help offer that customer voice to our software team. We want to make sure our software platform works consistently across products to give our customers a great experience.
What brought you to the company?
There were two things that really brought me to Inscripta. One of them is the science. Moving from reading genomes to writing genomes was a super cool thing to think about. The team here was a big draw for me as well. The team is super collaborative, innovative, smart, and fun. They keep me on my toes and force me to learn new things every day. They are challenging in the most positive way.
How did you get into the genome editing field?
I had no experience with genome editing prior to coming here. I was familiar with it, of course, because it’s pretty hard to be a working scientist today and not know about CRISPR and genome editing. But it was the opportunity to come here that let me get involved.
If you could use genome engineering to address any challenge, what would you choose?
There are a lot of really interesting challenges that can be addressed with genome engineering, but the first thing that comes to mind is trying to understand noncoding variation, particularly in the human genome. You look at the GWAS catalogs where a lot of loci are in noncoding regions, but it is unclear which variant is driving the phenotype. It’s clear we need to better tools for associating genotype and phenotype. Genome engineering will allow us to generate robust functional information so we can interpret noncoding regions. I think that would be fascinating.
What’s the best career advice you have?
Find a good mentor that you can talk to, somebody who can help you with problem-solving. I’ve been in science for a long time now and I still find mentorship hugely valuable. It’s a chance for someone to help guide you and make your thinking crisper.
What did you do as a kid that you wish you could do more as an adult?
One thing that I would love to do more now is read for pleasure. I read tons as a kid. It was probably the primary thing I did outside of sports. And it’s definitely something that I feel like I don’t have a lot of time for right now.
What’s your favorite vacation?
That’s an easy one. My favorite vacation is when we go to Montana and spend time at my partner’s family’s house up on Flathead Lake. It’s really close to Glacier National Park. We can take our dogs and just have a pretty chill and relaxing time. It’s absolutely gorgeous.