Connections  Career Paths in Biomedical Informatics
Alexandra Signoriello, PhD, Senior Data Scientist, Boston Consulting Group
Trained as a predoctoral fellow at Yale University

Alexandra (Lexi) earned a master’s and a PhD in computation biology and bioinformatics. She is currently a senior data scientist at BCG where she is working to transform healthcare.

From STEM to Informatics

Growing up, Lexi Signoriello was a STEM kid. In addition to being a voracious reader of mysteries and science books and loving the outdoors, she liked math, science (especially biology), and statistics.

In college, Lexi studied math, biology, and computer science. These interests led Lexi to curate a curriculum that included a biostatistics minor. She also took a course in algorithms, which involved using algorithms in biology. This was Lexi’s first exposure to biostatistics and biomedical informatics, which she found extremely interesting.

During college, Lexi participated in research that involved building computational models for disease spreading through a hospital. Unlike taking classes, where there is a right answer, with research, the exciting part is trying to find an answer. This experience ignited a passion in research. Researchers think independently, form questions, and conduct research to find answers.

Upon graduating from college, Lexi didn’t feel like she was done learning. She wanted to learn more about biology, computer science, coding, and statistics. She decided to pursue a master’s and then a PhD at Yale in computational biology and bioinformatics. She liked that bioinformatics programs, including the program at Yale, tended to be connected to the medical and research fields. At Yale, she was frequently at the medical school and also spent a great deal of time in the lab, both of which she enjoyed. Lexi also spent time developing software, conducting molecular dynamics simulations, and even touching on genomics.

Lexi’s program at Yale had five women, who bonded, collaborated, supported each other, and made the entire experience more fun. She liked the flexibility of her program, as she was able to take courses in biology, computer science, informatics, and other areas of interest. She also discovered how broad the field of biomedical informatics is, including analyses in areas such as hospital electronic medical records, the human genome, and pathology.

“There are so many things that bioinformatics means . . . It is really an encompassing, huge field. It’s not this one specific, very precise research field.”

During her master’s and PhD programs, Lexi worked on cancer research, studying the shape of immune cells infiltrating melanoma tumors. She was also a TA and helped teach a bioinformatics class. As a result of her PhD experience, Lexi feels she became a better programmer, a better researcher, and more of an independent thinker.

Leveraging Biomedical Informatics Skills

Mentoring was important throughout Lexi’s life. As a result, Lexi, was inspired to mentor others. During her program at Yale, each year she would serve as a mentor, helping one student with their senior thesis. She also mentored middle school girls, working with them on science experiments and encouraging them to consider science and to make their own path. In addition, Lexi taught coding classes to middle schoolers and was also a yoga instructor.

After completing her PhD, Lexi joined the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) where she is working as a data scientist using informatics to transform the healthcare world. Since joining this consulting firm, every problem she has worked on has involved using medical informatics. She plans to continue working in this space, where she sees tremendous opportunities.

As the world quickly becomes digital, Lexi believes it is going to be necessary for everyone to have some informatics knowledge, as informatics will be everywhere. Lexi is happy with her own choices to develop extensive informatics knowledge and skills. She says that the ultimate reward is having significant impact, improving patients’ quality of life, and making changes in the world.

“The most exciting aspect of informatics is being able to make an impact. The field of medicine is moving so quickly, and we hope is giving people more life and less pain. Informatics enables us to accelerate that, to get answers sooner, and to be able to make changes in the world.”

Trainee information current as of 2019.