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Making a difference

Person-to-person: Sarah Craig
9 April 2020

Editor's Note: This story accompanies the Science Journal feature article Connecting the Dots.

“The INSIGHT study is so rich. I cannot walk away from it.”

Sarah Craig.Sarah Craig joined the INSIGHT study as a postdoctoral scholar, when the study was still in its infancy. Although she considered moving on to other opportunities after completing her postdoctoral work, none have been as compelling as INSIGHT. Craig, now an assistant research professor of biology, currently acts as a hub for the study—managing logistics, coordinating and tracking samples, performing basic data analysis, and taking the lead on writing research for publication.

What initially drew Craig to INSIGHT, and ultimately what keeps her with the study, is its translational nature, applying basic science to a tangible problem that could actually make a difference in people’s lives.

“These are real people, real families that we are studying,” said Craig, “It’s very exciting to have this deeply characterized group of families and to use statistical techniques that bring in a new way of looking at the questions. We can see things from this study that we would never be able to see from a more traditional large-scale study.”

Craig received a doctoral degree in evolutionary biology from Duquesne University, where she became interested in human genetics and how populations change.

“I was interested in what makes us human and what makes humans different from each other,” said Craig. “After graduation, I was looking to transition into a translational research project that still fundamentally got at these questions, so INSIGHT was a perfect fit.” One of Craig’s goals when she came into the study was to better understand the statistical and bioinformatic modeling that goes into a deeply characterized biological study like INSIGHT. During the early phases of the study, Craig spent a lot of time processing biological samples, but she has appreciated the opportunity to move into more of the data analysis.

“It has been really great for my personal and professional growth,” said Craig. “It has really helped build my toolbox, and the environment is so collaborative. No other study that I have been involved in has had such a positive, collaborative environment with such potential to make a real impact.”