IT Kontrakt’s Got Talent! Szymon Myrta

Szymon Myrta has been with the IT Kontrakt team since May 2017. By profession, he is a “double master” as a holder of a diploma in bioinformatics and another one in molecular medicine. In his private life, Szymon is a keen short-distance runner. In June this year, he represented Poland in the 39th edition of an athletics competition for people professionally involved in the field of medicine - MediGames 2018, held in Malta, where he won the third place in the 100-metre race for men aged under 35.

Rather than a coincidence, however, his participation in the competition and the good result are more an outcome of a few factors – his love for this sport, consistency in his pursuit for the goal, as well as ability to collect and analyse data. The two latter of the mentioned competencies are indispensable in his current work aiming to develop medications applied in oncology.

Agnieszka Włodarczak (AW): You’re a bioinformatics specialist. It’s a relatively new field of science. What exactly does your work at IT Kontrakt involve?

Szymon Myrta (SM): Nowadays, thanks to IT Kontrakt, I’m involved in a project for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. As a bioinformatics professional, I take care of the analysis of genetic data. The most frequent type of information I’m analysing these days is the activity of genes, i.e. so-called expression. I receive such data in the form of tables full of values representing the levels of expression of tens of thousands of genes obtained from a few hundred organisms and various comparison groups, most often people and mice. My job is to find key genes whose expression varies between specific groups. Discovering these differences makes it possible to, for instance, indicate the cause of cancer in a specific patient or examine the impact of potential medication on changes to genes’ activity – thus contributing to the development of oncology. To recap, bioinformatics is where a few areas meet, such as statistics, programming, or scientific research – also involving ability to clearly and lucidly present the results obtained, which often takes more time than the analysis itself.

AW: It’s nice to listen to somebody talking about his work with such dedication.  Having said that, you have another passion – outside the professional arena, which is running. Why this sport?

 

SM: Ever since I learned to walk, I have preferred to run 🙂 Already as a-few-year-old, I admired American sprinters. I still recall the race that took place in 1998 in which Maurice Greene was breaking the 60-metres indoor world record. There was perfection in every move he made. I was able to capture it, analyse it, and put it into practice. What’s more, as far as a bioinformatics specialist’s work is concerned, this analytical way of thinking is one of the very useful characteristics. I did short-distance running in a club for 13 years, 5-6 times a week. Now I no longer strive for outdoing my records. My aim is just to keep very fit, and 3 workouts a week allow me to perform really well. Besides this, the activity of running is just one element of a sprinter’s workout, as exercising strength, jumping ability, stability, and technique are equally important.

As a result, this sport, as contributing to your general fitness, seems to be a basis for many other sports. Moreover, apart from actively doing this sport, I’m keen to go to athletics competitions as a spectator, as well as support the organisation of such events. In this year’s World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, I had my debut as a sports journalist, enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the world’s best athletes, and even served as an interpreter for the Polish 4×400 m men’s relay team at the press conference held after they beat the indoor world record. Apart from it, I’m fulfilling myself as a short-distance running coach and co-founder of the Sports Club Sprinterzy.com. To sum up, I don’t consider myself to be somebody with exceptional talent or predisposition for athletics, but I’m always guided by a motto of the already mentioned Maurice Greene – “If you want to be number one, you have to train like you’re number two”. It does work – in both private life and the professional domain.

AW: How did it come about that you took part in MediGames? You’re a programmer, while MediGames is after all a sports event for medical professionals.

SM: MediGames is world championships for people working in the medical sector. It’s open not only to doctors but also related professions, such as biologists, laboratory staff, or even ambulance drivers. Being a bioinformatics specialist also makes you eligible for this event. However, my trip to Malta wouldn’t have been possible but for the involvement of IT Kontrakt, which is keen to support its team members’ passions.

AW: What did your participation in MediGames 2018 mean to you? Are you going to run in future editions of the event?

SM: MediGames was primarily excellent fun and extra motivation for me to train but also a pretext to do some sightseeing on Malta. Next year’s MediGames are going to be held in Montenegro, and if nothing interferes with my preparations, I’ll be happy to go there too to compete for medals for Poland. In the meantime, I’ve been in touch with the doctors’ community I met there, and together we’re toying with an idea of organising a sports camp.

AW: It’s commonly known that running is one of IT Kontrakt’s favourite sports. Did you take part in the previous editions of IT Run? Are we going to see you at the 10th edition of the event, which is going to be held in September in Wrocław?

SM: I wholeheartedly support IT Run, but the 10-kilometre distance, which is a hundred times longer than what I specialise in, isn’t a good option for me.  Endurance wouldn’t be a problem, but – in all likelihood – the cramps would prevent me from finishing the race. Admittedly, I dream of doing a marathon, but I don’t intend to revolutionise my training plan for the time being. I’d be very keen to enjoy the event as a spectator, though.

AW: Thank you for the conversation!

The interview was conducted by Agnieszka Wlodarczak – Social Media & PR Cooridnator at IT Kontrakt

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