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Nikhil Munshi’s lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has accumulated an overwhelming amount of data — over a thousand terabytes of intel on healthy cells and cancer cells that could help researchers unlock new secrets about health and disease — what he called the “unbelievable complexity of how cells remain normal and become abnormal.”

“It’s very, very exciting. We can do things we could not do literally two years ago or five years ago. A petabyte of data sounds like a Star Trek number, but a lot of people have [more],” Munshi, an oncology researcher, said. There’s just one problem: “There’s so much demand for informatics, the supply is not there yet. There really is a shortage of good bioinformaticians.”


Data science is throwing biology into a paradoxical crisis of both plenty and scarcity, Munshi said. Research institutions and life sciences companies are generating more data than ever, but there just aren’t enough data scientists. And those in the biology field aren’t even the only ones. Everyone — from financial institutions and tech giants — is mining immense amounts of data, and they’re all scrambling for the same data scientists.

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