American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
January 2005 Mentor of the Month Interview: Larry Kricka
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
  3. What are your Board certifications?
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  11. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  12. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  13. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of General Chemistry Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Centre, Philadelphia, PA
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
    • 1965-68 B.A. (Hons) York University, York, UK (Chemistry)
    • 1968-71 D.Phil. York University, York, UK (Chemistry)
    • 1971-73 Research Assistant, Liverpool University, Liverpool, UK
    • 1981-82 Medical Research Council Traveling Fellow, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA
    • 1973-80 Lecturer, Clinical Chemistry, Birmingham University, Birmingham, UK
    • 1980-87 Senior Lecturer, Clinical Chemistry, Birmingham University, Birmingham, UK
    • 1987-87 Reader in Clinical Chemistry, Birmingham University, Birmingham, UK
    • 1987- Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
    • 1987- Director, General Chemistry Laboratory, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
    • 2000-01 Acting Director of Clinical Chemistry Section, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
    • 2002-02 Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Christ's College, Cambridge, UK.
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    I am a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (London)
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    The Royal Society of Chemistry (Fellow), Royal College of Pathologists (Fellow), Association of Clinical Biochemists (Emeritus)
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      Wife Barbara and three children, Simon (chemical engineer), Anna (Clinical Research Assistant), and Thomas (starting graduate school in 2005)
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      Travel, skiing, writing (I have had several of my alliterative verses published – but I am keeping my day job!).
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      I am an avid traveler and the places I have not been to yet is a constant source of motivation for future travel – however, I am particularly fond of coastal towns, and Sidmouth in England is a long-time favorite.
    • Favorite book/movie
      Somerset Maugham’s Collected Short Stories; my taste in movies is very broad and ranges from The Producers, to the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol to Galaxy Quest!
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      Move permanently to the United States in 1987, learning to ski the same year at a rather advanced age (!).
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    Clinical chemistry
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    I studied chemistry as an undergraduate and undertook research in organic chemistry for my doctorate. During a post-doc my interests evolved into a more biological area through work on drug polymers for slow release drug formulations. I then progressed to a faculty position in Clinical Chemistry and this began my research and teaching career in clinical chemistry and clinical laboratory management.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    Immunoassay interferences (e.g., due to human anti-animal antibodies), non-isotopic labels and detection techniques (e.g., chemiluminescence, bioluminescence), micro-miniaturization of analytical methods.
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    Co-invention and development of the enhanced chemiluminescence system that is widely used in immunoassay and nucleic acid assays, and co-invention and development of a range of microchips for analytical methods (e.g., PCR). My success in technology transfer has also been a contribution that I take pride in and this includes my work with the British Technology Group (commercialization of enhanced chemiluminescence system ), Tropix Incorporated (commercialization of a range of dioxetane substrates widely used for immunoassay and nucleic acid assays), and ChemCore (analytical microchips).
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    The effects of recurrent cycles of cost-containment on the daily practice of laboratory medicine.
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    Rewarding - serving the AACC as President in 2001 Challenging - establishing myself professionally in the USA following my move from England
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    It is certainly rewarding to know that the routine work of my laboratory contributes in a meaningful way to the welfare of hospital in-patients and patients in the community.
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    Crystal-ball gazing is notoriously unreliable, but – we should expect a steady increase in DNA based tests as more of the mysteries of the genome are unraveled, and more tests based on protein markers that will be discovered in the on-going proteomic studies.
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    The effects of a dwindling and ageing laboratory staff, a technologically more complex clinical laboratory environment, and continued fiscal pressure on laboratory services.
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    Establish a strong research program. Finding the right environment that is supportive to research and a mentor willing to help in the development and furtherance of your career are important factors for success.
  11. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    My contributions have been through AACC-organized scientific meetings and courses that have provided valuable educational resources for AACC members, and through my support, as a member of the AACC Board of Directors, for numerous educational programs including Lab Tests Online.
  12. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    I became a member of the AACC in 1988 and became active in my Local Section. This led to involvement in Division activities and then AACC meetings (Oak Ridge) and AACC publications, and international activities. The final step was to run for President in 1999. The obvious advice is to get involved at the Local Section and to then look for ways to contribute to the national and international activities.
  13. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    In building a career, Dr. Samuel Johnson’s advice is as true today as it was when he said “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance”!