March 2008 Mentor of the Month Interview: Loralie Langman
- What is your job title and affiliation?
Director of the Drug/Toxicology Lab
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
- Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
- BSc in Laboratory Medicine and Pathology - University of Alberta
- Ph.D. in Medicine, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology - University of Alberta
- Clinical Chemistry Fellowship - University of Toronto
- What are your Board certifications?
- American Board of Clinical Chemistry: Clinical Chemistry, Molecular Diagnostics, Toxicological Chemistry
- American Board of Forensic Toxicology
- Canadian Academy of Clinical Biochemistry
- American Society of Clinical Pathologists: Medical Technologist
- Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science: Medical Laboratory Technologist
- With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry
- American Board of Clinical Chemistry
- American Society of Clinical Pathologists
- Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
- Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists
- Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences
- International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology
- International Federation of Clinical Chemistry
- Midwest Association of Toxicology and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring
- National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards / Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute
- National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry
- New York Academy of Sciences
- Society of Forensic Toxicologists
- The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists
- What area(s) do you specialize in?
Clinical, post-mortem, forensic toxicology, drugs of abuse, therapeutic drug monitoring, and pharmacogenetics.
- What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
My undergraduate degree was in lab medicine and pathology; during one of the lectures on toxicology my professor was discussing the metabolism of drugs and variability between individuals. I found it so fascinating that I wanted to make the study of it my career. Everything thereafter I chose to do was with that goal in mind.
- What are your clinical and research interests?
Metabolism and pharmacogenomics of amphetamine-type stimulants and cocaine; genotype phenotype relationships of psychoactive medications.
- You were named AACC’s Young Investigator of the Year. Describe how you achieved this accomplishment and some of the keys to your success at such an early age.
I was honoured to be nominated for this award. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing mentors and colleagues during my career. I have a wonderfully supportive spouse, family and friends. These individuals have encouraged me and inspired me to do what I enjoy doing and achieve what I have. I know what you’re thinking--it sounds cliché, but that doesn’t diminish its truth.
- Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
I have worked in clinical labs since my undergraduate, but I have also worked outside the lab setting. The one thing that stands out in common that makes going to work difficult is unhappy or underperforming employees that “drag the workplace down.” I found it particularly interesting that Dr. Broussard made the same observation.
- How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
Make time for your family; make time for your friends; make time for yourself. Don’t talk about doing it … do it.
- What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
As a Toxicologist, you are always asked to find what a person was exposed to, whether in the forensic or clinical setting. It’s much like a mystery, and who wouldn’t like to solve a mystery?
- What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
There will always be a need for toxicologists, the number of drugs (both prescription and illicit) shows no signs of decreasing. The demands to detect and quantitate these drugs, therefore, are increasing, and as a result, advances in analytical methods and technologies might have the greatest impact. However, when one considers selecting the right drug for the right person at the right time (personalized medicine), or development of drugs that will be more efficacious with less toxicity, or determining why a specific individual had an adverse reaction while others do not, the advances in pharmacogenomics and proteomics might have their greatest influence.
- What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
Achieving work/life balance.
- What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
Let me tell you a story about setting goals. Not everyone, you meet “along the way”, will be supportive. When I made the decision to go to grad school and pursue this field of study, one of the “not so supportive” professors basically told me that I could not achieve that goal. I chose not to listen, and quite frankly, to prove that person wrong. That was the best decision I ever made.
I don’t have the authority to set goals for anyone other than myself. Choose your own goals and create your own path.
- Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
I’d like to thank SYCL for considering me as a candidate for Mentor of the Month. As for advice, get involved, meet new people, make friends, share your knowledge, and most importantly have fun.