Career Story Blog Post By Ernest Smith, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Vaccinex
I entered graduate school in the summer of 1994, a couple weeks after graduating from St. John Fisher College with a Biology degree. I joined UR’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, which afforded me a wide range of labs to work in. Over the following nine months, I did rotations in labs that focused on Immunology, Virology and Biochemistry. Even as a graduate student, I have always been more interested in developing new technologies than I have been in discovering new biology. I see discovery research as a form of detective work; you uncover the facts, follow the leads and present your case. You don’t change the facts; you just try to understand them. In contrast, I found inventing new technologies exciting because you are changing the reality and making something exist that didn’t exist before. Although building a knowledge base through discovery research and understanding biology well enough to intervene and treat diseases are both critical, I was most excited at the prospect of inventing technologies that are used to solve intractable biology questions.