A triple life in science

Ever since embarking on my pretty unusual career path in leaving big pharma in 2001, I have been faced with several forks in the road, hard decisions on which way to go. To join a software company or not? work with university spin out? – some were good decisions others less so. Since 2008 I have generally opted for the path of least resistance and just added these opportunities to the growing list and ran with it. So when people ask me who I work for or what my day job is I have to take a few minutes to explain that I work for a lot of different companies or organizations and wear a few different hats. I am pretty sure when I go visit a company for the first time and explain this to them it can be hard to take in if they have perhaps only ever worked for 1 or 2 companies. I can summarize my work life as a triple life. I have been giving this some thought recently as I was invited to talk to undergraduate students at the upcoming ACS meeting in Boston in August. Doubtless I will prepare some slides at some point.

Currently the largest slice of my time goes to CDD where I work on neglected disease grants as PI (NIH, MM4TB) and write papers on the projects funded. After this I spend a good percentage of my time working on rare diseases, for Phoenix Nest, Inc. working on our enzyme replacement for Sanfilippo syndrome type D STTR with LABioMed and also acting as CSO at the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation, working on Charcot-Marie-Tooth research. I also volunteer my assistance to Hannah’s Hope For GAN. In addition in my start up Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. I work with collaborators to perform preliminary experiments to get data we can use in future grants and patents. A common theme here is writing STTR or other grants as well as papers to raise awareness of the research undertaken. The final component is Collaborations In Chemistry, through which I do additional consulting for academia,  biotech and consumer product companies on ADME/Tox, neglected diseases and pretty much anything that comes along. This is also an outlet for any other interesting computational collaborative project that comes along, such as last years foray into Ebola Virus research and tweeting at conferences.

This diversity of projects is welcome because it makes it more interesting as I  like to continually try something new in science, although it makes it hard sometimes to cull projects. I am fortunate to be able to collaborate with so many terrific groups of people who can tolerate this alternative career path. Yes it is challenging to keep it all straight and manage time, but I would say working for oneself is something others should try if they are in the situation to do it. I am perhaps at another of those crossroads at which point I should probably hire an assistant to help, so if you know anyone that would be interested please let me know. Who needs a double, give me a triple life in Science!

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