American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
June 2005 Mentor of the Month Q&A Session: Emily Winn-Deen
Welcome to SYCL's Mentor of the Month.  Questions and Answers will be displayed below...

What are the Job Opportunities for Young Ph.D Clinical Chemists? Should they start at the entry level or as Laboratory Directors?

Emily S. Winn-Deen
Everyone needs to accept that there is a need to start at an entry level and work your way up. This can be through either on the job experience and training, or by going through a formal Ph.D. and post-doctoral training program. A lab director needs to deal with both technical as well as managerial and personnel issues, and needs to have a resouce of experience to draw upon to do this well. Some individuals find it difficult to excel at all aspects of this job, and choose to focus on only the technical side. Within diagnostics companies, they will find a technical career path that typically runs in parallel with one more focused on people and program management. Look into your heart and evaluate your skills and likes/dislikes before jumping into any of these alternative paths.

I was advised that changing jobs frequently would hurt my career development. What is your opinion on this issue? Thank you.
Milwaukee, WI

Emily S. Winn-Deen
It is important to analyze your reason for changing jobs in order to determine if it will help or hurt your career. In two instances in my career, the company I was working for shut down the location where I was, and all personnel were laid-off. Both these situations forced me to re-think where my career was headed and to decide if I wanted to make a change in direction. Changing jobs within a company is often looked upon as a normal part of career development. With each new assignment you acquire new skills and experiences, making your contribution to your institution richer. Unversities offer sabatticals for this same purpose. The only type of job changes that I would caution against are those made because the "grass is greener" elsewhere. In some cases this is true, but in many others you may just be exchanging one set of issues for another. Employers value stability and commitment to working to completion, and this often requires riding through the bumps in the road to get to the desired goal. In this case perseverence may be a better option in the long term than changing positions.

Can you please forward this to Mrs. Winn-Deen. I am a long time investor and have been with Cepheid for a very long time. I was doing some research and came across your article on this site. Great to see the visibility for you! I have a huge amount of faith in the Cepheid technology and the impact it will have on the medical industry and a better future for patients. The last 2 years have been trying, but the future is still very bright. The company's ability to attract talent such as you is a good indicator of the future. Hope you will be able to announce the first GX ASR at this event to let the world know that GX in clinical is ready for business! :) Have a great show coming up next month! Dion McCormick Austin Texas
Austin Texas

Emily S. Winn-Deen
Thank you for your faith in both me and in Cepheid. I am delighted to be here and hope that the products we are working on will have a real and positive impact on the practice and availability of molecular diagnostics.

I couldn't help but notice that you hold more than a dozen patents. I am curious to know which invention(s) you are particularly proud of. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments!

Emily S. Winn-Deen
I think the patent that I am most proud of is the one for a single step amylase reagent. That assay improvement made a real difference in the way amylase was measured at the time, and went on to become a new standard for amylase determination.

Do you foresee the implementation and use of affordable chip-based arrays in the clinical molecular field?
Rochester, MN

Emily S. Winn-Deen
The first diagnostic chip, the Roche AmpliChip P450, was approved by the FDA earlier this year, so implementation of this technology in the clinical laboratory has just begun. I do see more chip-based products in the future of the clinical laboratory, particulary for genomic applications. For diseases that require either the interrogation of a large number of polymorphic sites (as is the case for the AmpliChip P450), or those for more analysis of more complex expression paterns (as is the case for the leukemia chip also under development by Roche Molecular), chips are the right tool for the job. Due to the current cost to make and validate such chips, they are currently relatively expensive, so the applications they are used for will have to justify this cost. Over time most technology is improved and costs decline, and I expect this will also be the case for chip-based arrays.