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MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Theerarat Kochakarn, Fai

Text written by Nóra Lehotai and Theerarat Kochakarn. Picture credits go to Theerarat Kochakarn or stated otherwise.

In this MIMS Spotlight Series interview, I chatted with Theerarat or Fai, as we know her. She left Thailand behind to join MIMS in March 2021 and do the job she truly enjoys. 

 Can you tell us about your role at MIMS, what are you working on now? 

GB. Hinxton. Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Conference Centre. MalariaGEN GEM 2018 Conference.  Genomic Epidemiology of Malaria Conference held at the Wellcome Genome Campus Conference Centre in Hinxton, UK. 11-13 June 2018.I am a postdoc in Oliver Billker’s group. I am a bioinformatician and I am analyzing the single-cell and epigenetic data, coming from the malaria research group.

 Portrait picture of Theerarat Kochakarn, Fai. Credit: Thomas Farnetti.


What were you doing before you joined MIMS and what attracted you to start a position here? 

I met Oliver in Cambridge, we had nice conversations, he is a very inspiring researcher, and I got a good feeling when thinking about being involved in his research group and research. If I had not had the opportunity to work here, I would probably have been taking a medical training post somewhere in rural Thailand. This is my first postdoctoral position, but I was trained as a medical doctor. During my PhD, I spent a few months in Oliver’s group at the Sanger Institute (UK), where I was involved in genome biology, using different bioinformatic approaches, and I got inspired by other bioinformaticians there. After finishing my PhD on malaria protein evolution, I went back to finish my medical training and worked in the hospital. During that period, I realised that I missed doing bioinformatics. So, I decided that after finishing my medical training, I would like to find a postdoc position, which led to me being here.


How was it to start at a new workplace during the pandemic? 

To start with, the pandemic caused a one year-long delay for me to come here. I am a quiet person and I prefer that someone else starts the conversation in the room or around a table, and I listen to others and join in later. It is obviously harder for me to connect with people when they are only available online.


If you would not have your current profession, what do you think you would be doing? 

Because I am a medical doctor, I would be probably getting a residency in Radiology in Thailand. 


What do you do in your free time and what are you most enjoying in living in Umeå, Sweden? 

Fai 2




I like to read and draw and play video games. I don’t like competitive games, though.




Picture: Fai by the Umeå river. Credit: Theerarat Kochakarn.


 Is there a little known/interesting fact about yourself? 

I used to draw Japanese style illustrations; comic style, and I would like to pick it up in the winter again.

Fai 3reducedPicture: Beautiful water drawings made by Fai. Credit: Theerarat Kochakarn, Fai.

Emmanuelle Charpentier took the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Emmanuelle has been awarded jointly with Jennifer Doudna the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. She is a former group leader at MIMS, honorary doctor at Umeå University and former visiting professor at UCMR.

Movie by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (

Battling antibiotic resistance

movie by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, with participation of scientists from MIMS and UCMR:
Or watch the original movie on:

Research about infectious diseases:

Oliver Billker in movie of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation:
Or watch the original movie on:

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