Meet Ian Dunlop – Head of Software Engineering

Find out how Ian became a software engineer in the drug discovery space

Which team do you work in and what does that team do?

I work in software engineering; it sits within Informatics. I see it as the glue that holds all the things that informatics builds together.

What’s your role within your team?

I am the Head of Software Engineering – I try to keep things together, keep the direction going – act as the interface.

I’ve been writing software for a long time, about 27 years now. I studied Mathematics at university but drifted into software engineering. And I’ve been here since.

Being a software engineer is all about mindset – you don’t have to have studied computer science to get there. You’ve got to be logical and have a certain way of thinking.

In three words, what would best describe your team?

Innovative, enthusiastic and awesome.

What attracted you to the drug discovery industry and Medicines Discovery Catapult?

I’ve been orbiting life sciences and drug discovery for quite a while – I keep coming back to it – It’s always something I’ve been interested in. I just want to contribute to making the world a better place.

What do you aspire to achieve in this industry?

I want to help others. I don’t have any great aspirations as such, I want to make other people’s jobs easier.

Tell us about any work you’ve done that you’re most proud of.

I’ve done lots and lots of things I think are cool.

One that stands out to me is some software called Method Box. I thought it was pretty neat at the time, a few years ago now. It was very innovative, probably little bit ahead of its time – right thing, wrong time.

Method Box was designed to join data and methods with people – it was like a social network for data. It was developed as a research project, the social science around getting people to share data, methodologies, etc.

To date, what’s the most extraordinary or interesting job/project you’ve had in your career?

I’ve done so many interesting things, you wouldn’t believe – it makes this a hard question to answer.

The first thing that springs to mind is when I was part of something called Open PHACTS a few years ago – it was a big pharmacology project, with lots of data. It was exciting.

Although, MDC is also really good too. To be honest, I just always want to do interesting things.

Life sciences is fascinating. The people especially make it this way – I work with some great people. You could spend the entire day chatting because they’re so captivating.

If you could swap your job with anyone in the world, who would you swap with?

For me, I would always say I want to be Valentino Rossi. He is big in the world of MotoGP

and motorbikes. He’s in his early 40s now and not as fast as he used to be, but very much still up there.

The problem is…I don’t think he’s any good at coding though. And I’m probably not quite as fast at riding a bike. I’d definitely give it a try.

Tell us something you like doing outside of work.

Family is a big part of my life, guitars, motorbikes and dreaming.

Get to know our Informatics team – meet Hervé Barjat – Bioinformatics (Tissue Image Analysis). He talks about his role as a Bioinformatician.