October 2010 Mentor of the Month Interview: David Sacks
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. 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 scientists 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, Harvard Medical School
    Medical Director of Clinical Chemistry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Director, Clinical Pathology Training Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    Education
    • M.B., Ch.B. from the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
    • Rotating Internship, Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
    • Medicine Residency, Georgetown Medical School/DC General Hospital and Veterans Aministration Hospital, Washington, DC
    • Clinical Pathology Residency, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis
    • NIH Fellowship, Washington University School of Medicine
    Professional Appointments
    • 1988-1989 Instructor, Pathology and Medicine
      Washington University School of Medicine
    • 1989-1995 Assistant Professor, Pathology
      Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 1989-Present Medical Director of Clinical Chemistry
      Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 1995-Present Associate Professor of Pathology
      Harvard Medical School
    • 2001-2002 Senior Visiting Fellow, Department of Neurochemistry
      University College London, London, England
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    • American Board of Internal Medicine
    • American Board of Pathology (Clinical Pathology)
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    • American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC)
    • American Diabetes Association (ADA)
    • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
    • Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (ACLPS)
    • American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
    • American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP)
    • College of American Pathologists (CAP)
    • National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry (NACB)
    • European Calcium Society (ECS)
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      Wife and one son
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      rugby, jogging, music
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      London, New Zealand, Morocco, Istanbul
    • Favorite book/movie
      Book - Catch 22; anything by John Le Carré
      Movie - 2001: A Space Odyssey
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    • Chemistry of endocrine disorders, particularly diabetes mellitus
    • Basic research (intracellular signal transduction) in diabetes, cancer
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    Clinically important areas in which clinical chemistry has a fundamental role.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    • Clinical - Interface between the laboratory and patient care
    • Research - Intracellular signal transduction
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    Improving HbA1c measurement.
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    No.
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    • Developing a new clinical pathology residency program and training residents
    • Training postdoctoral fellows
    • Developing laboratory medicine practice guidelines in conjunction with clinical organizations
    • Obtaining funding for basic research
    • Serving on the editorial boards of Clinical Chemistry and The Journal of Biological Chemistry
  7. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
    • Work hard and play hard
    • Don’t work when you are on vacation or with your family
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    Positively impacting patient care.
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    Development of new tests based on basic research advances in our comprehension of the pathophysiology of disease, genomic sequencing and proteomics.
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    • Keeping new testing strategies in laboratory medicine
    • Learning bioinformatics and applying it to testing
    • Translating results generated in laboratory medicine into clinically relevant reports
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    • Set goals that are high, yet realistic
    • Do not be afraid of hard work
    • Try to achieve expertise in an area that you enjoy
  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.
    • Speaking at AACC meetings
    • Serving on the editorial board of Clinical Chemistry
    • Write and review manuscripts
    • Serving on AACC committees
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    • Maintain contact with your mentors and fellow trainees
    • Attend scientific meetings
    • Be active in AACC
  14. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    Work in an area you enjoy. You spend far too much time at work to be miserable while you are there.
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