- With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
I have been involved with several great organizations including AACC, ABCC, CAP, CLSI, NACB, and NACCCA.
- How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
My involvement with AACC and other organizations has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional career. My initial exposure to serving AACC involved communicating with Dr. Mary Burritt, who was the AACC President at that time. She was kind enough to appoint me to the Continuing Education Committee in a consulting role. From that experience I was able to move onto other opportunities with additional committees. I think young people who are interested in getting involved need to be assertive in asking to be considered for various committees. Recognize there are many ways to get involved, so be creative! Service does not have to be limited to committee work and can range from volunteering to organizing a meeting to writing a blog (something commonly done by younger people)! Once you are involved it is important to actively participate and fulfill your commitment to the committee.
- What area(s) do you specialize in and what initiated your interest in this (these) area(s)?
My main area of interest is in standardization of chemistry tests, particularly in the efforts towards standardization of bilirubin testing and defining its role in detecting neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. My interests luckily tie in quite nicely with the pediatric setting I work in. I am very fortunate to have a mentor, Dr. Basil Doumas, who introduced me to this field and assisted me in creating this area of expertise. I am indebted to him and many others who have helped me in developing my career.
- What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
Aside from the work I’ve accomplished to improve chemistry tests and laboratory quality through standardization, bilirubin being just one of those tests, I believe my most important contribution has been to educate others.
- What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
Education is the most rewarding part of my career. Whether it is teaching medical students, residents and fellow or participating in organizing educational programs such as the AACC’s Annual Meeting, the aspect of educating other individuals is very rewarding.
- How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
I believe there is more than one way to achieve this balance. For me, it has been the most successful to simply be true to my priorities. Many of my problems seem to resolve once I revisit them.
- What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
Ten years is not all that long, so the predictions are not radical. I predict there will be an increase in the miniaturization of instrumentation, as well as affordable and commonly ordered whole genome testing.
- What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
I think young scientists face many challenges, but one of the most challenging is deciding which projects to invest your valuable time. The issue of selecting projects arises because many of the young scientists are very intelligent and capable of accomplishing many things. Wouldn’t it be great to keep all your options open, all the time? Unfortunately, there comes a time when you need to choose what responsibility to accept or decline. Have the courage to be true to your priorities and interests.
- What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
Get involved and contribute to the advancement of your profession to help shape your future. Stay involved with your clinical colleagues. Be assertive and do not be afraid to ask questions!
- What is your favorite line from a movie or book?
I have several, but nothing too deep. “As you wish” from the Princess Bride; “It’s just a flesh wound!” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; and “He chose poorly” from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
- How did you discover lab medicine/science?
Science was something I was interested in beginning in the 7th grade in Mr. Swope’s class, but that is not what introduced me to laboratory medicine. My introduction to the field came from conversations with the spouse of my Ph.D. thesis advisor. She was familiar with the field of clinical chemistry and recommended that I look into it. Consequently, my first contact with a clinical chemist was with Dr. Fred Apple! I’m not sure if he recalls the conversation or not, but it was a tremendous help to me. Afterwards I went on to meet with Drs. Mike Tsai, John Eckfeldt and Tony Killeen at the University of Minnesota; all of them were very helpful in explaining the field of laboratory medicine to me!
- If you could start your career again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change a thing, but perhaps it would have helped if I would have known earlier about this career! As it is, I’ve been blessed to have crossed paths with numerous talented and generous individuals throughout my career.
- What is the riskiest thing you've ever done?
Besides answering these questions? Not much to report here, I’m very conservative so what I consider risky, others consider to be boring.
- What is one thing that most colleagues in AACC do not know about you?
As a junior in college, I once performed in a “water ballet” as an ice breaker for our incoming freshman class. It required wearing a toga and pretending to be a danseur, while holding a pitcher of water and squirting water out my mouth. Our mission was accomplished as we broke the ice!
- Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
You have chosen wisely! Clinical chemistry is a very rewarding and challenging profession. Make the effort to take control of your profession, get involved, and get others involved. Volunteer to serve and you will be rewarded. Make a difference!