Seeking Career Options Outside The Laboratory
Career Story by Michael Brady, PhD, Scientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Wilmot Cancer Institute, and past Clinical Research Coordinator
Academic laboratory-based science can be a rewarding career with a lot of advantages – freedom to explore your own ideas, the ability to work with great minds and flexible hours. On the other hand, grant funding cycles, transitioning out of a postdoc position and job stability can be challenging. The uncertainty of what lied ahead and my desire to have more control over my career, led me to seek out career options outside of the laboratory.
As my postdoctoral project was approaching an endpoint, a position as a clinical research coordinator in the lymphoma section became available. I had exposure to clinical trials through my previous research mentors both of whom were clinical oncologists. Moving from the bench to something more clinically focused was appealing as it gave me a new perspective on my previous research. Clinical trials also offered the ability to greatly expand my career options and step out of my very small corner of research. I spent the majority of my laboratory career studying hematological malignancies and I knew this was not something I could easily leave behind. Importantly, this position enabled me to keep close ties with my previous research interests.
Leaving the laboratory where I had spent more than ten years of my career was intimidating, but it was also a refreshing change. I was able to gain clinical experience, learn regulatory guidelines and satisfy my scientific-side by reading study protocols and seeing the outcome of novel therapies in the clinic. After several years as a clinical research coordinator and a short time as a project manager, I returned to the university to manage an NIH-funded, investigator-initiated, clinical trial.
In my current role as a staff scientist, I work closely with the study principal investigator to set up and oversee the daily operations of a multi-site clinical trial. I have been involved with all aspects of the study from designing the electronic database to contracting our laboratory testing and drug distribution. This role has allowed me to interact and collaborate with people from very different disciplines, which is something I really enjoy. One of the most rewarding aspects has been visiting the study sites to speak about the trial and to see the efforts of the many groups involved come to fruition. To learn more about my career pathway and hear more about regulatory guidelines, clinical research coordination, and looking for your next opportunity, join me Tuesday March 6 (9:30 -10:30 am) in the Louise Slaughter Conference Room (1-9555) in the Medical Center.
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