A new home for the Coop and fredhutch.io

4 minute read

Written by: The Coop Team - Fred Hutch Bioinformatics & Data Science Cooperative

For the last handful of years, Hutch Data Commonwealth (HDC) has supported data-intensive science for researchers at Fred Hutch. As a part of those activities, HDC sponsored the launch of the Coop in fall 2018 to enable community building among our computational researchers and staff. In fall 2019, following several years of sponsorship from PHS, the fredhutch.io training program for reproducible computational methods joined forces with the Coop by transferring to HDC. These changes allowed our team to grow in size and our programs to expand in scope to meet the needs of our research community.

Last week, Fred Hutch announced the decentralization of HDC. This transition involved reorganizing where data-intensive support is housed on campus, as well as staffing related to these activities. Fourteen individuals associated with HDC were laid off, including valued members of the Coop Team.

Since these announcements, we’ve been contacted by many of you in the community, asking questions and voicing concern over the future of computational training and community here at the Hutch. Please rest assured that the Coop and fredhutch.io are still working to support our active and enthusiastic community of data-intensive researchers.

What does this transition mean for the Coop and fredhutch.io?

The Coop and fredhutch.io are now housed under Interdisciplinary Science Administration (ISA). ISA includes both Shared Resources and the Interdisciplinary Research Centers (IRCs). We are enthusiastic about forging stronger connections with relevant groups in both Shared Resources and the IRCs (specifically Translational Data Science, or TDS-IRC), and continued ties with other former HDC groups who are co-located with us (Data visualization and engineering, Data management, and Scientific Computing). We are also eager to continue advocating for training and community support as plans for a new data core are developed in coming months.

We are grateful for the support provided by multiple leaders associated with both the reorganization and continued planning for data-intensive research, including Marion Dorer (head of ISA), Raphael Gottardo, (Scientific Director of TDS-IRC), and Erick Matsen (the founder of fredhutch.io). These long-time allies in promoting training and community continue to work closely with us to ensure data-intensive training activities remain available across the Center.

Kate Hertweck will continue to lead training activities through fredhutch.io and promote community development via the Coop. Gabi Barnes will continue to support fredhutch.io administration and assessment. Lauren Wolfe, who had begun work with the Coop over the last few months, will transition into full-time support for training and community, and we are excited to also be supported in a more limited capacity by Anders McConachie and Brenda Kostelecky (now under IRC). We continue to be indebted to our community leaders; these scientific staff have their own research projects, but volunteer their time to host groups, write documentation, and otherwise share their expertise. We’ll be working hard over the next few weeks to reprioritize our existing programs and activities given reduced staff and budget, and look forward to continuing to serve the needs of the community to the best of our ability.

We are saddened by the departure of our team members who are no longer working with the Coop and fredhutch.io following this transition. Their work laid the foundation for the community we have today, and will be integral to our continued efforts:

  • Carly Strasser, Director of Alliances and Data Strategy
  • Thomas Adams, Data Science Trainer
  • Justin Burge, Training and Outreach Specialist

What does this mean for you?

We sincerely hope you don’t notice any disruptions in support over the next few months as we reorganize and reassess! Many members of our community have extra time on their hands as we take a work-from-home break from the lab. We are happy to offer suggestions about developing or exercising your data and computational skills at this time:

  • Attend a class taught by fredhutch.io or review the materials for available classes, which are being converted to stand-alone, work-at-your-own pace tutorials. Have an idea for a class you’d like to see taught? Talk to us about developing curriculum or teaching!
  • Engage with us via our communication channels, including Slack, MS Teams, and office hours
  • Consider joining a community group meeting, or request for us to help you advertise a new group you’d be interested in hosting yourself. Have an hour you’d like to talk about genomics or flow data? Let us know and we’ll connect you with other like-minded folks!
  • Have something you’d like to share with the community? Write a blog post, or contribute to the Fred Hutch Biomedical Data Science Wiki
  • If you require assistance, please contact us at coophelp at fredhutch.org.

Finally, please be patient with us as we adjust to this transition. The Coop Team has continued to do the best we can to serve your needs during the last four months of uncertainty about our future. It is frustrating that our capacity to serve you has diminished now, especially in our current remote-work status. We feel increased urgency to respond to your needs for training in computational methods, and are aiming for lightweight, agile responses to the changing needs of our researchers–many of whom may not have previously needed or desired such assistance. This is a challenging time for all of us, both personally and professionally, but it’s also a unique opportunity to embrace computational work and our community.

For more information about the HDC reorganization, please see this link from CenterNet (requires HutchNetID login) or this public-facing article from Geekwire.