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 Ortega’s Clinical & Medical Background Helps Her Expand Illumina’s Biotech Sector


Improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome is the innovative goal that established San Diego, CA-headquartered Illumina as a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies.
“The company’s products, used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging markets, serve customers in research, clinical, and applied markets,” explains Julia Ortega, associate director of scientific research.
Ortega brought with her several decades of professional experience in data-driven clinical trial research, plus a broad and comprehensive educational background that includes a physician assistant degree and a master’s degree in health sciences.
Her ability to effectively dialogue with both clinicians and scientists is a direct result of her medical background, her first-hand knowledge of a clinical environment and her clinical trial research experience, she points out.
“My current focus, however, is on the expanding biotech sector,” notes Ortega, who’s been with Illumina for four years.
What actually led her to biotech was her love of patients and her desire to close the disparity gap. “Illumina is an incredible environment to work in. It utilizes cutting-edge technology to help patients in need,” she states.
Pleased that her job allows her to tap into her passion for using data to help patients, Ortega manages the daily operational activities of iHope, a philanthropic program that provides whole genome sequencing to patients in need. She also coordinates various research efforts, one being a multisite study that examines the clinical utility of providing whole genome sequencing to acutely ill babies in intensive care units.
Stressing the importance of her field, Ortega remarks that the efforts she manages involve utilizing whole genome sequencing technology to help diagnose individuals with yet undiagnosed rare diseases that may be of genetic origin.
About this technology, she explains that “whole genome sequencing can detect different variations in the genetic code that would otherwise take multiple tests over a long period of time to discover. Getting to actually see this technology change lives is priceless.”
According to Ortega, not only are advances - and jobs - in biotech growing, so, too, is the demand for this field. She urges those interested in this type of technology to be open to all opportunities and to identify strong mentors to serve as advocates.
“People skills along with excellent communication and diplomacy are essential,” believes Ortega, who thoroughly enjoys being a part of the group of the brilliant people with whom she works.
For more information about Illumina, visit illumina.com/company/careers.html, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
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