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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / March 2019 / Unique Combination of Training Leads to a Unique Career Opportunity

Unique Combination of Training Leads to a Unique Career Opportunity

By Matt Kennedy, PhD, Associate Director Molecular Virology at Oncorus and UR Alumnus

As I progressed through grad school and my postdoctoral training, I became both engrossed and inspired by my basic research, but there was always a lingering thought that I had diverged from my original intention: production of therapeutics for unmet human disease. This therapeutic direction had always been there, and as I considered the immediacy of the impact of my work, I gave serious consideration to industry scientist jobs in fast moving startups / small biotechs  where I could directly contribute to new medicines. 

My training was highly multidisciplinary, leaving me with a unique combination of virology and RNA biology expertise, and a unique opportunity at Oncorus arose to engineer tumor specific viruses with sophisticated safely controls requiring both these components of my training. This work sounded fascinating, and I aggressively pursued it when I learned more about the impact it may have on patients with advanced untreatable malignancies.  Although checkpoint inhibition (examples include nivolumab and ipilimumab) greatly improves response rates for many solid tumors, a large fraction of patients still don’t benefit from this approach and standard of care. These patients have a clear unmet medical need that provides a great opportunity to develop new sophisticated biologic modalities. At Oncorus, we develop tumor specific oncolytic viruses to treat these malignancies. Specifically, these viruses have a unique ability to sensitize the tumor to checkpoint inhibition, drive a neoantigen specific adaptive immune response, and deliver synthetic immunomodulatory payloads. Building these impactful viral therapeutics in this era of high throughput screens and advanced DNA synthesis is both fast paced and exciting, and represents a great opportunity to develop entirely novel therapies for devastating human malignancies.

Our discussion Friday March 1 at 11:00 am in the Center for Experiential Learning 2-7544 will focus on the realities of industry basic and translational research, and any general Q&A regarding the biotech career path and job search.   I look forward to meeting you all and to having a robust discussion! If you’d like to join me for a noon lunch, please RSVP

Tracey Baas | 2/25/2019

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