November 10, 2008

Biomedical Career Day Speakers Pitch Potential Post-Grad Paths

UAMS department chairman Gwen Childs discusses careers in research administration.

Dean Robert McGehee greets UAMS graduate Bill Massey.

Bill Massey, CEO of B.W. Massey & Co., talks about research careers in industry.

Nov. 10, 2008 | A University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) graduate who parlayed his doctorate into starting a drug development company encouraged others to find a way to use an education to help people.


The UAMS Graduate School hosted its 11th annual Biomedical Career Day on Oct. 30, drawing 113 attendees from 13 colleges in three states that included undergraduate faculty, students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The event brings together speakers and presentations to discuss available career and education options.


Bill Massey, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of B.W. Massey & Co., graduated UAMS in 1990, later working as a research scientist for pharmaceutical company Merck before starting his own consultant firm.


“Your Ph.D. is a ticket to the show. It’s a great accomplishment but no guarantee of success,” said Massey, who challenged students to use their knowledge of research methods, data analysis and how to educate themselves to build on their degree.


Ultimately, he urged students to “do things that help people.”


One of his company’s current projects uses pattern recognition software to find ways to make new molecules that could lead to new anti-psychotic drugs. Massey joked that “for a guy who hates math, I now run a company based on math.”


Gwen Childs, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences in the UAMS College of Medicine, found she enjoyed hearing about the successes of others as much as her own successes. That, among other traits, she said, led her toward work in academic and research administration.


Other traits that might demonstrate an interest in administration, she said, include “you like people in science as much as you like science,” “you are able to see both sides of an issue,” and “you enjoy the organizational aspects of work.”


She said students or faculty interested in administration should not let their own research work languish in favor of administrative work. Instead, she said that early in a career it will be their scientific achievements that position them for opportunities in administration.


“The key is to keep your research program strong and multi-task by taking advantage of these opportunities,” Childs said, urging involvement with committees, advisory groups and even community organizations.


UAMS Graduate School Dean Robert McGehee, Ph.D., said he was pleased with the turnout for Career Day.


“It is important for undergraduates to see the types of career opportunities available if they pursued one of our doctoral programs,” McGehee said. “There are many different career paths students can choose. We always try to cover both traditional – academia – and non-traditional careers each year.”  

Other presentations included discussion of research grant reviews by a National Institutes of Health scientific review officer. Those talking about their own careers included Jerry Buck, a scientific operations manager at the Arkansas State Crime Lab; Greg Burton, Ph.D., a senior medical liaison for Roche Laboratories Inc. in New Jersey; and science writer Dorothy Miles, a research associate in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.