What’s The Answer? (effective altruists in bioinformatics)

As this week’s lighter holiday fare continues, here’s an interesting and unusual question about career directions related to bioinformatics. I’d love to see how this comes out 10 years from now.

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the Biostars_logo community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at Biostars.

Forum: A Bioinformatics Career for an Effective Altruist?


My situation:
- Living in Portugal. But I have no problems in going to other countries.
- Just finishing my Biology’s Bachelor’s Degree
- Know some Haskell and Matlab
- I’m doing the The Odin Project course ( I already know some HTML, some CSS, some Ruby on Rails and a good bit of Rails, I think.

What I Want
- I want to be a Effective Altruist (, that is, I want to do the most good possible in the world. I could have a very-well-paid job and give a good percentage of it to charity (a strategy called ‘earning to give’). Or I could have a job with a direct impact on people, like biomedicine research on important problems. Or I could mix the two strategies.


I’m thinking about getting a Masters on Bioinformatics. But I’m afraid that after finishing it I could get a not-very-well-paid-job compared with other informatics-related jobs and that that job would not have a great positive impact on society. Maybe what I would give to charity with the earnings from other informatics-related job would do more good in the world.

On the other hand, I have no formal education on informatics.Could I really get a well-paid job in the area just from self-learning?


- How much positive impact does bioinformatics research has on the world?
- How a bioinformatics master’s degree would raise my chances of one day have a really-well-paid-job compared with just self-learning?

Thanks. :D

Luís Campos

Ps: There’s a worldwide community of effective altruists, so I think the answers to this question have the potential to have a high impact on some person’s carrers


I enjoyed reading people’s thoughts on this, and added one of my own.

One thought on “What’s The Answer? (effective altruists in bioinformatics)

  1. Bill Whitford

    Here is my assistance, for what it’s worth. The answer to your first question depends a lot upon how you define “Impact”. In one sense, rubber manufacturers have a lot of impact in society. Without lorrie tires, we could it get food to the shops. In another sense, working at an animal
    shelter has tremendous impact. Suffering dogs all over the world need help. In yet another sense, joining a convent and “serving God” your whole life has the most eternal impact. So, really, before you try to answer the the question, you have to discover what YOU believe valuable “impact” is.

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