Professional development is an integral part of graduate life. To help graduate students navigate the challenging road of career planning, the SOT Graduate Student Leadership Committee (GSLC) hosts an Interview with the Expert podcast. In April, we invited Dr. Renée Bergeron from Novartis to share with our graduate student community her experiences and insights as a toxicologist.
To evolve into a preclinical safety assessment expert, Dr. Bergeron absorbed knowledge and technical skills from various disciplines, including chemistry, environmental science, and regulatory toxicology. “The technical training allows you to understand and troubleshoot your experiments and interpret scientific results,” she said. For graduate students or early career professionals, these wet-lab experiences gained during the journey will lay the foundation for decision-making in the later stages of our careers.
Passion for the position is a good start for a job application. Looking back on her career path, Dr. Bergeron highlighted two decisions she made: moving from chemistry to pharmacology and applying for Novartis. Although it might be uncertain at that moment, both transitions paved the road to the drug development work that she enjoys every day. “Every job doesn’t have to be your last job,” she continued, “And each step of the training and experience becomes part of your toolbox for the next phase.” Even in the same position, it’s gratifying to keep learning new topics and challenging yourself to benefit your career success.
“Become the project manager for your day!” This might be the best advice for scientists seeking to embrace work-life balance. Talking about this, Dr. Bergeron shared her experiences with taking on both personal and professional responsibilities. Like each scientific project, it’s always helpful to set the overall goals and prioritize each objective at the beginning. “When you’re in the middle of details, it’s hard to see the big picture,” she remarked. Being able to step away from work and revisit the problem is another tip for those buried with work all the time. Sometimes you might miss the whole galaxy while staring at only one star.
Lastly, Dr. Bergeron pictured the current and future situation of toxicology. From her perspective, many parameters, such as NOAEL, will still play significant roles in toxicological studies. However, the new types of study design for risk assessment of novel modalities will impact the success of toxicologists in the future. “We’re starting to make toxicology a much more integrated discipline in drug discovery,” she said. In the meantime, SOT, as a “melting pot of network and scientific resources,” will always be the central emblem of toxicology.
A full recording of this interview can be viewed online. Please feel free to share it with your peers if you find it helpful! We always welcome any suggestions or feedback you might have for this podcast series. If you’re interested in participating in our event as an interviewer or interviewee, please reach out to the SOT GSLC. Thank you!