"It is exciting to be a part of the early discovery engine at Genentech. I am constantly motivated by the dedication, creativity, and scientific rigor of my colleagues."
I distinctly remember my first class in protein structure and function at McGill University, because I was hooked. In essence, determining an experimental structure provides a snapshot into the molecular underpinnings of life. During graduate studies at the University of Toronto, I became fascinated by the prospect of crystallizing integral membrane proteins. Although many of these proteins perform important roles in biology, we typically lack high-resolution structural information. Focusing on ion channels and transporters, I quickly learned that membrane proteins are greasy, floppy, hard to produce, and generally recalcitrant to forming well-ordered crystals. Consequently, these types of structure determination projects often require troubleshooting, methods development, persistence, and even a bit of luck. I have always been inspired by the innovative research and therapies that Genentech is known for, so I jumped at the chance to work on challenging drug discovery projects with the potential to one day deliver impactful new medicines.
At Genentech, I enjoy working closely with colleagues across the research organization on diverse membrane protein targets. Structure determination efforts are only one facet of our work, as we are especially interested in methods development for small molecule and antibody discovery. We believe that advancing new technologies for membrane proteins will potentially impact our discovery efforts in all therapeutic areas. Every day is truly exciting, not only because we strive to understand the molecular level details of our targets, but because we are also making great progress.
The research environment for postdoctoral fellows at Genentech is truly special. We have world-class facilities and resources, but it is the ready exposure to diverse and expansive expertise in technology, biology, and drug discovery that I believe are absolutely unmatched. Postdoc projects tend to be at the interface between Genentech’s interests in basic research and drug discovery, and our fellows are encouraged to take exceptional research risks because the environment here is built to support them and ensure success. Within our membrane protein structural biology group, postdocs are encouraged to be fearless on projects, in part because we are in a unique environment with unique tools to probe the structure-function relationships of high-level or previously inaccessible systems. We anticipate that the published results may redefine the dogma in a given field, and that the experience gained by our postdoctoral fellows will ultimately ensure successful scientific careers.
Science. 2015; 350(6267):aac5464. doi: 10.1126/science.aac5464