Ms. Jennifer Ozonma Enjoying Corporate America in Boston

I started off the summer working for five weeks as an academic contractor at Eli Lilly & Company in Indianapolis.

Working in the protein optimization team of a larger division called Biotechnology Discovery Research (BioTDR), my main responsibilities included purifying recombinant proteins for use in the treatment of diabetes and obesity.

I think Lilly is a unique company because even though team work is emphasized, they also encourage creativity and innovation. My manager welcomed my ideas and perspectives on solving each problem. This is certainly not the case in some other companies where you’re more like a robot following cut-and-dry protocols.

I enjoyed the community culture at Lilly; attending meetings and networking with scientists across the board. The most exciting aspect of working in BioTDR was that everybody honestly cared about your personal career success. My manager always scheduled meetings with people she thought could give me the best perspective on pursuing graduate studies in pharmacology. Everybody encouraged me to further my education by getting a doctorate degree in any area of biomedical research including pharmacology, immunology, cell biology, translational medicine, etc. I am extremely grateful to the company, and particularly to Dr. Jude Onyia, director of BioTDR, for providing me with this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I was fortunate to be selected for another 11-week internship at Novartis, AG, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, with their R&D operations in Cambridge, MA.   I am currently working as an intern in Oncology Drug Discovery. The goal of my project is to decipher the mechanism of action of a novel molecule that has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth. In layman’s terms, we have a molecule that we know stops cancer cell proliferation, but we don’t know how it does its MOA. In figuring this out, my assignment is mainly that of target validation, siRNA knockdown, and determining if siRNA knockdown of target genes can rescue the growth-inhibitory effect of our novel small molecule inhibitor.

In addition to working extremely hard at Novartis, I am also attending graduate school interviews and open-house visitations at my graduate schools of choice. I have interviewed at Tufts Medical School and attended an open house at the Joslin Diabetes Center of Harvard University. My plan is to relocate to the Greater Boston Area upon graduation next May to attend graduate school at one of the elite research institutions in the area.

Overall, I am having the time of my life in corporate America. There’s just something cool about walking around with a company ID, and being referred to as an “employee”.lol.   I love Boston, aka Beantown!! Even though it sucks to be a Lakers fan around here, it’s hard to beat a city with over 60 schools and companies located in a 27 mile radius!

 I’d like to give big thank you to everybody that assisted me in this process. I owe all of you, big time!

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