Bridge Hunter ’97, Scientist, Genzyme
Undergraduate Major: History
Graduate program: PhD in Applied Anatomy and Physiology, Boston University
How would you describe what you do on a typical day to someone who is unfamiliar with your field?
I have been in an industry setting for six years so half of my time is spent working in the lab running experiments to test out potential therapeutics. The other half is spent organizing experiments and managing others that work on my project.
What advice do you have for students searching for jobs or internships in your field?
Contacts are the most helpful way to get your foot in the door. Numerous people have contacted me through the UVM Career Connection website and while I haven’t found any of them a position at my company, I have been able to forward resumes along to colleagues or give advice about potential job opportunities. Another great resource in my field and my area is the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. It is an association of more than 600 biotechnology companies, universities, academic institutions and others dedicated to advancing research.
What is your favorite part of your work? Most challenging part?
Scientific research can provide some of the most rewarding experiences while at the same time offer some of the most frustrating. The success rate in drug discovery is about 1%. It is easy to become frustrated in this field but one goes into this with the idea that their work will eventually lead to saving lives or at the very least improve the quality of life for ill patients.
What motivates you to go to work every day for this organization?
I have always been proud to work for my company because of its dedication to discover therapeutics for patients with rare genetic diseases, areas of unmet medical needs, and neglected diseases. Many of the larger pharmaceutical companies have not found it profitable to be in these markets because of the small number of people affected by these diseases. Our company has made it a priority to find a sustainable way to develop therapies for these diseases.
Tell us about your path to this position. Did you expect to hold this job when you were a college student?
When I came to UVM in 1989, I enjoyed my classes but I kept losing focus, so much so that UVM suggested I take some time off. I took three years off and finally came to the realization that I wanted to be involved in sports or medicine, or both. With help from UVM’s academic support program, I reentered UVM and earned a 4.0 my first semester back. I enrolled in the sports therapy program and the classes I took led me to develop a desire to enter the medical field so I spent my last two years fulfilling the pre-med requisites and completing a minor in biology.
I spent a year after graduation applying for graduate programs in exercise physiology and I was accepted to a program at Boston University. Before entering the program in the fall, I spent the entire summer working in a research lab in muscle biology. The professor directing the lab was pleased with the work I had performed and offered me a position. This lab position allowed me to perform research and take classes towards my PhD for free and provided a small stipend. During my tenure at this company I slowly drifted away from muscle biology and have been able to work in many different disease areas such as diabetes, cancer, atherosclerosis, colitis, and most recently infections of the colon.
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