Three computer scientists from the trainees at the Fondation 101 Génomes

2021 / Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

For four months, the Fondation 101 Génomes (F101G) benefited from the help of three young computer scientists who came to develop a new concept as part of an internship organised by the (My innovation center.Brussels). The collaborates with the Brussels computer schools from which it selects the best profiles each year to participate in its innovation programme. In this way, puts young developers in contact with Brussels companies to nurture an IT ecosystem in Brussels. In 2021, the F101G was able to accelerate its IT development by joining the innovation programme. Sabine, for the F101G, met the three interns Luis Save Lara (LSL), Matthieu Kisiel (MK) and Fabien Hance (FH) to discuss their experience with the F101G.

What training did you receive?

LSL We are all three completing a bachelor's degree in business informatics - programmer analyst at the EPFC in Brussels. We did our internship with F101G as part of our training. At the EPFC, we are trained to be developers in three years. We mainly follow programming courses but also courses in accounting, SAP, communication, copyright or computer networks. We benefit from the experience of incredible teachers who are extremely competent and motivating. 

FH On a personal note, I would like to add that after my business studies and a first professional experience, I really realised the importance of IT for a sales site as well as for the development of machines, etc. So, in order to understand a little more about this world which seemed complicated to me, I enrolled in evening classes for the bachelor's degree in business informatics at the EPFC.

What did bring you in addition to your training?

LSL The helped me to find an internship, which is not easy during the covid period. Thanks to the help of the coaches, I learned how to use the Azure platform and I also deepened my knowledge as a full stack developer.

MK I discovered during a video conference. I applied and then passed the selection process. Above all, offers supervision and follow-up during the course, including additional training and the certainty of having enough practice to validate the course at the end of the curriculum.

FH After applying, we had a two-part test: first a technical development exercise in 3 hours and then an interview. Afterwards, put us in touch with Fondation 101 Génomes.

How is your course organised?

LSL We work full time: two days a week at and three days at Fondation 101 Génomes. Regular meetings are held between and F101G to discuss difficulties and how to overcome them. The 2 days at are dedicated to work for the Foundation but under the supervision of our coaches.

FH Four or five coaches, each with expertise in different areas, such as databases, the more visual aspects, etc., supervised us. Every week, there was a status report and a follow-up that allowed us to see the timing, the objectives and to achieve them. This is important because sometimes we get stuck on details. Here, we were starting from a blank page in terms of development... so it was important to be supported by coaches both to help us with technological choices and to have an opinion or to put us on the track in case of problems. 

What were the highlights of your placement? And what will you learn from it for the rest of your career? professional?

LSL A rewarding internship on a professional level but also on the human side. The values of the F101G are values that I share 100%. I learned a lot about the human genome and all its hidden potential that is not yet well exploited. I remember that working in a small structure and carrying out a project from scratch is the path that suits me and that I will follow for the rest of my career.

MK I learned both technical things about the technology used and also about genetic research. What I'm going to take away from this internship for my career is the experience of following up with the client for whom the project is being developed. You have to continually come and talk to the client and ask him if you understand what he wants. This is something I have always been told, but I have never been confronted with it before. It's not difficult to do this follow-up, but it requires a constant effort to keep in mind.

FH It's rewarding to be able to work for a Foundation, for a cause. Secondly, this is not my first professional experience. And I have found similarities here, such as the fact that I am part of a small team where everyone is somewhat multi-functional, so you learn a lot. And in this type of structure, you have to be independent. You also have to be able to do things on your own and not hesitate to suggest certain things, to open up discussions. I also learnt a lot about genetics, the whole evolution of genomics and all the research results that come from it. This is perhaps an area in which I could work, try to contribute something.

And the fact that you were three trainees, was it more difficult to organise?

MK The fact that there are three trainees has allowed us to move forward more quickly. It's important for the rhythm of work and the atmosphere... we encourage and motivate each other.

FH You have to learn to work in a group. It's important to set up a structure, to define everyone's role, and to use the right tools to share the work. If we don't agree, there can be conflicts between the different files. At the end of the day, you have to put everything together without breaking everything else. This is not always easy. And when things get stuck, it's always good to rely on the expertise of others. It's instructive for the future.

What do you think of the project you worked on?

LSL : This is an ambitious project with a noble cause. Romain and Ludivine trusted us completely, which gave us a great deal of creativity in the design. It was a great experience.

MK As far as the project is concerned, I find it very interesting and I hope it will evolve to advance genetic research for rare diseases in particular. I would like to see a good use of it because it has potential.

FH The project we've been working on is a very ambitious project. What's great is that we are developing it from scratch. It's very complete, we use everything we learnt during the course as well as new technologies. And then it was rewarding to work with a real 'client', with a very concrete objective. For example, hosting. You had to examine the different technologies and their cost before choosing, in consultation with the team. This allows you to take the initiative.

Interview by Sabine Serck


Visit here the mission statement of the three MIC trainees for the F101G: trainees improve access to genomic data

The 101 Genomes Foundation (F101G) is a non-profit patient organisation based in Brussels whose objective is to advance genomic research by creating a unique genomic database hosted in the cloud to be accessible to multiple research teams. This database will contain whole genome sequence and phenotypic cross-referenced data from rare disease patients, relatives and volunteers willing to contribute to the research. In order to facilitate access to the required genomes, three students have been recruited from the MIC Prototyping Internship Programme to assist in the development of an online application site.

The human genome, the genetic material that makes up human DNA, is 99.99% the same in every person. F101G's research focuses on that 0.01% that differentiates each of us, but which may also be the cause of rare diseases or hold the key to curing them. To get the statistical depth needed to conduct research, a large collection of genomes is required. This is why F101G needs to gather as many volunteers as possible who are willing to contribute to the research in order to collect the necessary genomic data. According to a survey conducted by the King Baudouin Foundation, about 60% of the Belgian population is willing to grant access to their genome to support research.

Application site

In order to give concrete expression to this desire to provide access to genomic data, F101G is currently working on a tool to facilitate the contribution of volunteers to genomic research. It is precisely the interface of this tool that has been developed by the students of Citizens can actively support research by registering on the site. The pooling and accessibility of collected data allows several research teams to work on data outside of a silo. F101G's goal is to build a cloud-based research infrastructure to bring the full benefits of open data to research while supporting the growth of biotechnology. If you would like to be among the first to join the platform, we invite you to sign up for the newsletter at

Three students participating in the prototyping course organised by collaborated with F101G in order to accelerate the development of the interface and to improve certain technical aspects related to the computer part of the project. "The trainees all had different but complementary profiles," says Romain Alderweireldt, founder of F101G. "During their internship, they worked on the future public platform hosted on Azure and powered by Microsoft technologies, which should enable volunteers to actively contribute to genomic research. From Tuesday to Thursday, the interns worked on the development of the website and then investigated technical issues and questions. On Mondays and Fridays, they were coached by a team of various IT experts. Each of them had the task of challenging their choices, examining their code and giving them tips or ideas to advance their work. This organisation provided not only a support structure for the students, but also peace of mind for F101G, who knew that the development of their project was being closely supervised while retaining the final say in decision making.

Contextualising expertise

While working on this project, the trainees not only learned a lot about their job as developers (the reality of project management, deadlines, technical challenges, etc.), but they also had the opportunity to gain knowledge from various experts associated with the F101G project. This allowed them to put their expertise into practice in a concrete context and - hopefully - to stand out in the scientific and medical world.

It was also a really rewarding human experience, as they got to work with people who want to make things better, on a project that could soon improve the lives of many patients and their families. "Over the next few months, we will be testing improvements to the user interface. Trainees continue to accompany us on this project. We definitely want to continue our collaboration with for future projects, because of the quality of the services, but also because the result of our first experience was more than satisfactory," concludes Romain.


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