- What is your job title and affiliation?
I have been at the Hennepin County Medical Center since July 1982. Currently as Medical Director of Clinical Laboratories with primary responsibilities in Clinical Chemistry, Toxicology and Point of Care Testing, and Professor, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Kinesiology. In addition, I serve as Forensic Toxicology Consultant to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.
- Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
I obtained a B.S. in 1975 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Biology and a Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of Minnesota in Bioorganic and Biophysical Chemistry. My thesis title was "Manipulation of the fatty acid composition of mammalian plasma membranes in culture". After teaching General Chemistry for a quarter at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, and waiting tables at a Minneapolis restaurant, I accepted a 2 year postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, under the direction of Dr. Jack Ladenson (July 1980-June 1982).
- What are your Board certifications?
- Diplomate, American Board of Clinical Chemistry, Clinical Chemistry, 1985.
- Diplomate, American Board of Clinical Chemistry, Toxicological Chemistry, 1988.
- Board Eligible, American Board of Forensic Toxicology, 1988.
- With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
In general since 1980, I have had a passion for the field of Laboratory Medicine, specifically Clinical Chemistry. My main focus in this specialty has been in research and education. It has been a very rewarding way to meet professional colleagues and share ideas.
My first professional affiliation was with the American Chemical Society (1977).
I joined the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in 1980 and have been most actively involved through the various publications sponsored by the AACC:
I am also active with the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (ACLPS) since 1991, serving on the Executive Council Member-at-Large 1999-2002, President-Elect 2002-2003 and President 2003-2004, and Past President 2004-2005. Further, I have been active with the IFCC, serving as a member and currently as Chair of the Committee Standardization of Markers of Cardiac Damage, 1998 – present; Chair 2004-06. In addition, I have been a member of the United States Anti-Doping Agency Anti-Doping (USADA) Review Board, 2003-2006.
- Associate Editor, Clinical Chemistry, 2001 to present.
- Board of Editors, Clinical Chemistry, 1991 - 2000; Editorials Editor, 1996 - 2000.
- c. Section Co-Editor, Questions and Answers, Journal of the IFCC- 1996-2002.
- Board of Editors, Forensic Urine Drug Testing Newsletter, 1993-1995.
Other organizations and affiliations that I have been associated with are as follows: International Society of Clinical Enzymology, 1983; American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 1986; National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS); Clinical Chemistry,1991-1993; American Board of Clinical Chemistry, Board of Directors, 1992-1998; Society of Forensic Toxicology (SOFT), 2000; Editorial Board, Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 2000 – 2002; FDA Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Toxicology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices. Advisory Committee, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, 2004-2005; Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists, 2000; American College of Sports Medicine since 1981; Fellow 1986.
- Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
I am married (Jan) and have 2 children (girls); one who started college this year and one in grade 5.
- Favorite activities/hobbies
My two favorite past times are golf and running. I’d be content right now if I could afford it, to spend all day on the golf course. I also love to cook, sample red wine, and listen to opera and rock and roll. I gave up my weed garden this summer, to spend more time playing with the family.
- Favorite places you have traveled
Greece, the Isles of Spetsis, Samos, Mykonos; Paris, New Zealand on the south Island, Kurana Sweden in December, and my favorite spot on earth, the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
- Favorite book/movie
I love old movies from the 50s and 60s. I enjoy reading biographies and about WWII.
- Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
Tandem fixed wing hand gliding in Queenstown New Zealand, after jumping off an 800-foot cliff with a total stranger (professional) along my side; The 6 minutes in the clouds were unreal. It was my wife’s idea.
- What area(s) do you specialize in?
Clinical Chemistry (general), Forensic Toxicology and POC testing.
- What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
While finishing my PhD in Chemistry, I talked with a graduate student from Iowa (MaryEllen King) who opened my eyes to postdoctoral training programs in Clinical Chemistry. The rest is history.
- What are your clinical and research interests?
My major interests lie in the areas of cardiac and risk biomarkers involving clinical studies/ trials and new technology validation as well as postmortem toxicology and ethanol pharmacokinetics.
- What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
Contributions towards the appropriate utilization of cardiac biomarkers for the diagnosis of myocardial infarction and a better understanding of protein distributions in tissues.
- Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
I leave acid / base to the nephrologists.
- What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
There are many. The professional, scientific friendships I have developed through my training at Washington University School of Medicine from the time of my postdoctoral training and through the AACC national meetings rank high as the most rewarding. Honestly, and without sounding like a cliche, every day at work is a challenge and still fun after 24 years at the same institution. Finally, I have been very fortunate to have been able to speak all over the world because of a couple proteins called creatine kinase MB and cardiac troponin. I owe these 2 molecules a lot.
- How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
Determine what you enjoy or like to do at work, what you do best at work, and go after it. And leave things behind when you go home.
- What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
Every day at the hospital, whether training residents/fellows, consulting with clinicians, addressing issues in the research lab or signing out interesting toxicology cases, is new and unique; with a unique problem that needs solving.
- What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
I am very excited and optimistic about the future of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Chemists, especially with the growth into new molecular and protein technologies that will be used for detection and therapy applications; involving cancer, heart disease, and pharmacology.
- What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
Get good, sound training, and embrace new technologies for proteomics and genomics. Work with your clinicians. Keep an open mind.
- What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
I am a strong believer that research, applied or basic, needs to be a strong part of the added value to our profession. While service, teaching, and administrative duties are important, our profession needs to continue to take the lead in new laboratory testing strategies and technology implementation. Find a senior staff member who could be a sounding board.
- Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
As I note above, I have attempted to give back through educational/training efforts (giving workshops at the annual meeting) and serving on committees (AACC, IFCC, and ACLPS) that I feel I can contribute to. I have been most active through the journalClinical Chemistry, which is a very positive icon for the AACC.
- How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
First you join, and find something you want to do; and if you do it well, the rest will follow. Also, find an area in research that you can slowly build a story around.
- Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Don’t take no for an answer the first time. Good luck.