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PhD Career Connections: Laboratory Medicine

Posted by on Friday, October 13, 2017 in Upcoming BRET Office of Career Development Events .

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PhD Career Connections presents: 
Laboratory Medicine
Thursday October 19th
Light Hall 202
featuring Jonathan Schmitz, MD, PhD, Jennifer Colby, Phd, and Ferrin Wheeler, PhD

Registration is requested

Explore exciting careers in clinical laboratory medicine which bridge bench research and clinical care.  As an important member of the healthcare team, clinical laboratory scientists research and develop laboratory procedures that help physicians make earlier, more precise diagnoses and tailor therapy for patients.  Career paths in this field can be include clinical pathology, microbiology, chemistry and toxicology, molecular genetics/cytogenetics, and immunopathology, among others.  The clinical laboratory scientist typically works in a clinical laboratory setting such as hospitals, academic research centers, physician’s offices, and industry where their scientific training and expertise ultimately contribute to improving human health.

Come hear from three scientists who have pursued this career path and learn what a day in their lives looks like, what kind of background and training makes someone a good fit for this career, and the clinical laboratory medicine fellowship programs specifically designed to prepare you for this path.


Jonathan Schmitz, MD, PhD, D(ABMM) is an Assistant Professor in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology.  He serves as the Medical Director of the VUMC Molecular Infectious Diseases Laboratory, as well as principal investigator of a research group in the PMI Division of Molecular Pathogenesis.  Dr. Schmitz received his medical education at Cornell University, his graduate training at the Rockefeller University, and his post-graduate training at Vanderbilt in the Clinical Microbiology Fellowship Program.  His academic interests include emerging opportunistic bacterial infections, the development of molecular diagnostic tools, and (generally speaking) bridging the fields of clinical microbiology and microbial pathogenesis.

Jennifer Colby is an assistant professor in the department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology and the medical director of Toxicology and Esoteric Chemistry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  Jen earned her BS in molecular and cellular biology from Vanderbilt University and her PhD in molecular toxicology from the University of California, Berkeley.  She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in clinical chemistry and toxicology at the University of California, San Francisco.  Her research interests include developing mass spectrometry based diagnostics, particularly for use in toxicology and therapeutic drug monitoring.  When not in the lab Jen runs, competes in dressage, and enjoys exploring Tennessee with her husband and their Bouvier des Flandres, Devi.

Ferrin Wheeler is an assistant professor in the department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology and serves as a co-medical director of Cytogenetics and associate director of Molecular Diagnostics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  Jen earned her BS in genetic biology from Purdue University and her PhD in molecular genetics from the Washington University in St. Louis.  She studied the genetics of cardiomyopathy during a postdoctoral research fellowship at Duke University before completing ABMGG fellowships in clinical Cytogenetics and Clinical Molecular Genetics at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  Her clinical interests include using SNP-microarray based testing to identify submicroscopic copy number changes in individuals with developmental delay and birth defects.  Ferrin keeps busy outside the lab by playing soccer, running and hanging out with her family.

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