Inside Inscripta: Reem Baraka, Sequencing

While Inscripta is a genome engineering company, we also make heavy use of DNA sequencing — so much that we have a high-capacity internal facility to sequence all of the edited cells our team needs to check. We count on people like Reem Baraka, Research Associate, to keep that lab running smoothly. After growing up in Egypt, she earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Colorado State University and joined Inscripta in 2020.

What’s your role at Inscripta?

I work for the sequencing operations team. We take DNA samples submitted to us from different teams in the company and prep them to be read on a next-generation sequencer. These teams are trying to develop the Onyx™ platform more, and they need to make sure it’s making the right edits at the right rate. It’s a fast-paced sequencing lab. We get at least 4,000 samples per month! We have six sequencers and they’re constantly running.

What brought you to Inscripta?

I actually joined Inscripta as a contractor at first. I had just graduated from college and it was really hard to find a job because of the pandemic. I thought this temporary position would be a good transition before going back to school to get my master’s degree, but I ended up loving this company. When the contractor position ended I was glad to accept their full-time offer. I work with so many talented and smart individuals who will help me to excel in my career. Even though I’ve only been here for a year, I’m already working on a new assay to enable the mammalian cell program.

How did you get into the genome editing field?

Inscripta is my first job at a genome engineering company, but I’ve been fascinated by genomics since college. I worked for a lab where the professors were studying plant and animal microbiomes to try to improve certain traits or to prevent certain infections. It was fascinating to see how sequencing information could make such a difference. Now, scientists have started making medicine using gene editing, and that could be life-changing for a lot of people. I love working for a company that has developed a benchtop machine to enable faster gene editing because it will make such a difference for helping the environment, curing disease, and so much more.

If you could use genome engineering to address any challenge, what would you choose?

Curing diseases. Being able to target the exact gene causing a disease to treat things that have never been treatable — if that could be the new normal, it would open so many more doors for everyone.

What’s the best career advice you have to share?

Find what you’re passionate about and just keep following it.

What did you do as a kid that you wish you could do more as an adult?

I used to sketch a lot, and I wish I could do that more now. I would sketch my friends and my family. I just needed a pencil and paper and I would go. It was really relaxing.

What’s your favorite vacation?

Anything with a beach or in the ocean somewhere! Recently I went to Miami and spent six hours in the ocean. I snorkeled and saw dolphins. It was amazing.