After three and a half years at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, Graham Scott has made a break for the private sector. The 40- year-old Kiwi, who “in a previous life,” he says, flew jets and transport planes in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, has left his job as director of sequencing instrumentation and robotics at Baylor to head up a lab at Sigma-Aldrich.
But why leave Baylor? Scott says running a lab at Sigma was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. At Baylor he enjoyed managing a staff as well as engaging in his own research, and he eventually began to realize that industry “would be a good fit,” he says. Furthermore, his research at Sigma’s St. Louis, Mo., headquarters — where he started work in November — brings Scott back to the tool he put to use for his PhD: protein mass spectrometry. Scott’s R&D will focus on developing reagents to assist in proteomics, protein expression, DNA amplification, and cell culture experiments, he says.
Scott is hesitant to disclose what sorts of reagents he’s specifically developing, but his lab is known as PEP for its heavy focus on protein expression and proteomics. “We make reagents that investigators would use to isolate proteins, to characterize proteins, or to quantitate proteins, and we’re working on a new and exciting group of products,” he says. To assist him, Scott will oversee a group of 15 scientists and technicians.
The transition to industry has been relatively painless, Scott says, partly because Sigma has been so supportive, and partly because working at Baylor’s sequencing center wasn’t like working in a straightforward PhD lab. “It was a good transitioning point between that type of lab and industry,” he says. “We had really big budgets and really hard deadlines to meet. We had to deliver that genome!”
Meanwhile, the sequencers at Baylor certainly continue to churn out data, and Scott’s collaborators there are carrying on with their research into new sequencing technology and other applications of nanobiotechnology. But Scott makes clear that his move to Sigma wasn’t because of any gripe he had with Baylor: “It was sad to leave,” he says. “My move from Baylor was more about the excitement and opportunity of working at Sigma.”
— John S. MacNeil