• ASBMB 2016 Annual Meeting

Career Options: The Bench, The Boardroom or in Between?

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6D


Cambria Alpha, Fish & Richardson
Cambria Alpha-Cobb is a technology specialist and patent agent in the Boston office of the intellectual property law firm, Fish & Richardson. Her practice focuses on patent prosecution in a broad range of technology areas including biotechnology and life sciences. Dr. Alpha-Cobb earned her Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University. There, her research focused on bacterial resistance to antibiotics in addition to exploring small molecule signaling through the design of cell permeable drugs. Prior to that, she received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry & cell biology from Rice University. At Rice, her research included a study of the structural evolution of hemoglobin. She also majored in Spanish language and culture. Dr. Alpha-Cobb became interested in intellectual property law during her postdoc at Yale University. She was looking for a position that retained close proximity to bench science, while applying a “bigger picture” perspective. As a technology specialist in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical areas, Dr. Alpha-Cobb works with scientists to help them protect their ideas, which range from basic science advancements to drug optimization. With the ability to translate scientific ideas and research innovations into real world applications, she is able to play a direct role in the advancement of science while maintaining a strong link to her scientific training.

Carl Franz, Genentech
Carl Franz is a senior scientific researcher at Genentech (South San Francisco) in the department of oncology biomarker development. His primary focus is working on biomarker discovery for immunotherapies in pediatric and adult cancers. His research ranges from exploratory retrospective and prospective studies to phase III clinical trials. Dr. Franz obtained his B.A. from a small liberal arts college (Blackburn College) prior to earning his M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. (2014) at Washington University in St. Louis. His Ph.D. thesis involved the characterization of novel viruses discovered in the model organism, C. elegans. He has enjoyed his transition into industry over the last year and the gratification that comes with having a more immediate impact on human health.

Kathleen Goss, University of Chicago
Kathleen Goss graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the College of Wooster and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Vanderbilt University, working in the laboratory of Lynn Matrisian. After a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of molecular genetics, biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Cincinnati with Joanna Groden, Dr. Goss started her independent research program at the University of Cincinnati and then moved her laboratory to the University of Chicago in 2007. The major focus of her work has been the molecular events responsible for breast and colorectal tumor initiation and progression, with a particular emphasis on the APC tumor suppressor gene and Wnt signal transduction pathway. Her work has been supported by grants from the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Concern Foundation, American Association for Cancer Research and National Cancer Institute. In 2013, she became the senior science writer and director of strategic partnerships at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is part of the communications team and responsible for integrating cancer outreach, advocacy and education efforts at the University of Chicago. 

Mitch Malachowski, University of San Diego 
Mitch Malachowski received a B.A. in chemistry from Rhode Island College in 1977 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina in 1983. He joined the faculty at the University of San Diego in 1984 and served as associate dean of arts and sciences from 1989-1994. Dr. Malachowski maintains an active research program involving the synthesis of metal organic frameworks. During his time at USD, he has worked with over 120 research students and has published over 60 papers. Dr. Malachowski also is interested in the relationship between research and student learning and has published articles on fostering administrative support for research, changing academic cultures, research vs. student-oriented scholarship, promoting research in non-science areas, the role of mentoring in research and starting a research across the curriculum movement. Dr. Malachowski was president of the Council on Undergraduate Research from 2002-2003. Representing CUR, he has run over 50 weekend-long workshops for over 600 institutions interested in research with undergraduates. He currently is writing a book on the impact of intercollegiate athletics on athlete’s cognitive development. Dr. Malachowski has received several awards, including one for teaching excellence from the University of North Carolina, the administrator of the year award at USD, the 1999 Davies Award for Teaching Excellence at USD, three university professorships from USD, the 2012 Patrick Drinan Service Award from USD, the Charles B. Willard award for distinguished career achievement from Rhode Island College, the 2014 CUR Fellows Award and was recently named the Carnegie Foundation/CASE California Professor of the Year.
Joan Taylor, UNC-Chapel Hill
Joan M. Taylor obtained her B.S. in biology (1988) and Ph.D. in pharmacology (1995) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Virginia (2001). She is currently a professor and vice chair for research in the department of pathology and associate director of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute. As a basic scientist, her research interests include defining the signaling networks that underlie the coordinated growth and development of the cardiovascular system including identifying signals within and between the major cell types that comprise these organ systems (cardiomyocytes, myofibroblasts, smooth muscle and endothelial cells). Her group uses a multi-disciplinary approach that includes the generation of animal models that mirror congenital cardiovascular defects in humans, and they identify affected signaling networks through biochemical, proteomic and genomic means. Dr. Taylor's research laboratory has been continuously funded by the NIH for the past 15 years and also has been supported by both the American Heart Association and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. During her career, Dr. Taylor has trained five postdoctoral fellows, one cardiology fellow and one medical, seven graduate and 13 undergraduate students. Her trainees have matriculated in a variety of professional positions that include academia, pharma, pharmacy and dentistry. Others are currently in specialty internships and hope to garner a position as a physician scientist in an academic setting.   
Robert To, Bayer
Robert To is a senior manager of the QC virology and cell characteristics labs for Bayer Healthcare. Dr. To earned his B.S. degree from the University of California, Davis, with a biochemistry major and a rhetoric and communications minor. After his undergraduate studies, Dr. To earned his Ph.D. degree from Purdue University focusing on the molecular biology of skeletal muscle development. He continued his scientific training as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, focusing on the cellular signaling of cardiac muscle development. After his academic training, Dr. To transitioned to the biotechnology/pharmaceutical drug discovery industry, where he has worked for the last 16 years. He started as a scientist at SUGEN (Pharmacia/Pfizer) and then became a group leader at Chiron (Novartis). He made another transition from drug discovery to manager of a cell-based analytical method development lab at XOMA. He then made yet another transition from analytical development to his current position. 

Melissa Vaught, NIH
Melissa Vaught is a biochemist turned editor. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2008, where she studied the biochemistry of lipid oxygenases. She continued research in inflammation as a postdoctoral fellow, first at at the Immune Disease Institute/Harvard Medical School and then at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Vaught began blogging about the culture of science in 2009. Since 2014, she has worked for Medical Science Computing as a scientific editor, contracted to the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Vaught also serves as the editor in chief of The POSTDOCket, the newsletter of the National Postdoctoral Association. She has served on panels and led sessions about science careers and social media for scientists. She also continues to tweet and occasionally blog as biochembelle.