Career Story Blog Post By Andrew Tomaras, PhD, Vice President and Director of Microbiology at BacterioScan Inc.
I was 3.5 years old when my sister was born with Down Syndrome, and one of the earliest childhood memories I can recall was being at the hospital with all of my extended family members awaiting her arrival. Needless to say, it was not the typical glee-filled event. During her early life, my sister struggled with multiple medical issues common in Down’s – she had open heart surgery at 6 weeks old, got pneumonia constantly (which always seemed to happen while on family vacations), and had to undergo speech therapy starting at a very young age. The constant exposure I had to emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, etc. really impacted me in a way that I wouldn’t fully comprehend until later in life. My interest in science, particularly in medicine and human disease, was undoubtedly fueled by these early childhood experiences.
Naturally I entered college as a pre-med major, and college was…..well……college. I did alright, but definitely had my fun. One of the core requirements for my microbiology major was to do a semester of laboratory research, which I did in the department’s ecology lab. It gave me an awesome research experience, even though it wasn’t directly related to human medicine. Now up until this point, I had been gung-ho for medical school, then suddenly this fantastic research experience completely threw my world into a tailspin.