April 2006 Mentor of the Month Interview: Ann Gronowski
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. In what area(s) do you specialize?
  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. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientist in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  12. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  14. 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?
    Associate Professor of Pathology & Immunology and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO and Associate Medical Director, Clinical Chemistry, Serology and Immunology, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, MO
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    My undergraduate and Masters Degrees are actually in Animal Science from University of Illinois and Iowa Sate University respectively. I obtained a Ph.D. in Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology from the University of Wisconsin. I completed two postdocs and a fellowship in Clinical Chemistry at Washington University. I’ve been on the faculty of Washington University since 1998.
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    ABCC board certified in Chemistry.
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    Currently, I serve on committees within AACC, ComACC (Commission on Accreditation in Clinical Chemistry), NACB (National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry), ACLPS (Academy of Clinical Physicians and Scientists), and the AWN (Academic Women’s Network at Washington University).
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      I have a husband of 20 years, Scott, and twin boys Alexander and Zachary who are five.
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      I enjoy running, biking & swimming. I love to hike with my family, read, and travel.
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      The British Virgin Islands is one of my favorites, but I also love the Pacific Northwest, Italy, Spain and Greece. I also enjoyed Kyoto, Japan.
    • Favorite book/Movie
      I love to read and I read everything from trashy fiction to historical non-fiction. Some of my favorites include “The Secret Life of Bees”, “Bel Canto”, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, “My Sister’s Keeper” and of course all the Harry Potter Books!
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      It is hard to pick just one! Having twins has been a fun adventure. Competing in triathlons is an adventure and they are always fun when they’re over! Traveling in a boat, at night, on the Aegean Sea with Captain Zorba and a goat was an adventure. Going to Oktoberfest in Munich was a fun time that I’d like to repeat. Hiking in the rain forest of Puerto Rico with appendicitis is an adventure I’d rather not repeat!
Career
  1. In what area(s) do you specialize?
    Immunoassays, Endocrinology, Maternal/Fetal Medicine.
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    In college, I found endocrinology challenging, but I loved it. I knew then that I wanted to continue my studies.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    I study biochemical markers during pregnancy including hCG, markers of pre-term delivery, and fetal lung maturity.
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    With the help of Curt Parvin, we created tables for assessing the risk of respiratory distress syndrome using gestational age and results from the TDX FLM II assay. Obstetricians have told me that this really helps them make decisions about how to treat their patients.
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    I find the management & regulatory aspects of the hospital unappealing. It is ironic, because my husband is an attorney for our hospital and that’s all the stuff he finds most exciting!
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    The most rewarding moments of my career continue to be when I see trainees succeed. I love to see our trainees get a great job, become active in AACC, and really enjoy what they are doing. That makes me happy. The most challenging part of my career is balancing family and career. I am actually answering these survey questions while watching my kids at gymnastics class. It seems there just are not enough hours in the day!
  7. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
    Everybody has a different answer for this question. Here are some things that work for me…1) Be organized, 2) Make goals for yourself both for your work and home life, 3) Focus on your goals, 4) Periodically assess your progress towards those goals. 5) Try hard to do everything well, but realize that you CANNOT do everything! 6) Find a (or several) good mentor(s). 7) Love what you do.
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    Every day, every case, every patient, every trainee is different.
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    I envision the incorporation of molecular methods into every aspect of the clinical laboratory and less reliance on serology to diagnose infectious disease.
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    As for all young professionals, I think it is hard to get that first chance. So many times you need experience to get experience…a circular argument. A good mentor can help you get that first job, or committee appointment, or book chapter, but some times it’s hard to find a good mentor.
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientist in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    What goals an individual should set depends entirely on the individual and what they want out of job, family, life. My advice is to look carefully at what you want and set a 6 month goal, 1 year goal, 5 year goal, and career goal. Frequently re-assess these goals and make sure you are on target. Dr. Jack Ladenson was one of my mentors and he was SYCL’s mentor of the month in August 2005. I love the way he answered this question and I quote him here: “One thing they might remember is that they are likely to have to look at themselves in the mirror every day. Try to make sure they live a professional life that allows for them to look at themselves and be happy with what they see.” I think this is terrific advice!
  12. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    AACC has been SUCH an important part of my career. My involvement in AACC has allowed for some great collaboration that has enabled me to give back to the profession scientifically. AACC has also allowed me to mentor people who are not at my institution through my involvement in the AACC student poster contest and SYCL.
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    I got started in AACC through my local section; I also had a mentor, Dr. Mitch Scott that was willing to nominate me for appointed positions. I would advise young people that want to get involved to volunteer for lots of things, and don’t give up if you are not asked the first time. If you are asked to get involved be sure to do your best and follow through.
  14. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    SYCL is such a great opportunity for learning and involvement. I urge members to attend SYCL events and get involved in SYCL programs and planning. It is a great way to prove that you are energetic and can get things done!
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