Saturday, June 23, 2007

Photo and career update from alumnus Phillip Chu

Phillip Chu graduated with a Masters degree in 1997. Below is message that he wrote describing his career path after leaving UCR and providing advice to current students. It was nice to see him at the Annual Student Symposium yesterday.

Sorry for the delayed follow up from our conversation from a few months ago. Things have been very busy with work and family which keeps me out of trouble. As per our conversation, I am writing to give an update on everything that has been happening since my matriculation from UC Riverside. After working at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Dr. Philip Koeffler’s lab for a year, I decided to spread my wings a bit and go into the business side of the medical industry in sales. Any one who knows me shouldn’t be surprised since it is well known that as much as I love research and the sciences, I was never a very good researcher or scientist. This was a fortuitous turn in my life as I found my true calling in life as a sales person. I start with Merck Pharma and worked there for 3.5 years as a pharma rep calling on physicians’ offices and promoted to a specialists position focusing on the growing asthma marketplace. After Merck, I returned to the sciences with a position at Sigma-Aldrich in sales as a Life Science Specialist. This kept me entertained for another 3 years after which I went to work for Applied Biosystems selling capital equipment into research labs and genome centers. About 75% of all the sequencers in the Southern California basin that were installed in the last 5 years were from my efforts including several at UC Riverside. After 3 years (anyone see a trend here?) I decided to jump out of the big boats of large companies and pursued a position with a start up company based in Toronto called Visualsonics. The transition to working in a small company was everything I hoped for – dynamic work environment, exciting technology, and the passion of working with a group of brilliant people all focused on a single goal of making the company successful. I also learned about the darker side of working with small companies as well as this adventure lasted just about a year. They re-organized the sales force cutting about 30% of the personnel for cost containment considerations in a push to go public. I was one of the casualties. But everything works out in the end and I am now with Nimblegen, another small, vibrant company based out of Madison, WI. They were just purchased by Roche Applied Sciences as a result of our hard work growing the business in a very competitive microarray marketplace with very entrenched players.
During this adventure of professional development, I met my wife, May May. She is everything that I could have ever wished for in a woman – she puts up with me! Let me assure you, this is no small feat and requires the patience, virtue, and wisdom of a great woman. She even saw fit to allow me to pass along my bizarre genetic traits in 2 wonderful sons, ages 8 and 10. As a family, they are the anchor that keeps me sane/insane on a daily basis.
It has been an exciting path since my matriculation from the UCR ETOX program. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to train in the ETOX program at UCR and felt that the breadth and depth of the coursework prepared me well for my jobs. The multidisciplinary approach of the program exposed me to various aspects of science that I continue to touch upon on a daily basis. Please feel free to use this as a story that life does exist outside of the lab and that sometimes life takes you down paths you didn’t consider before. Be open to different opportunities to learn different ideas. The greatest discoveries have always utilized oblique angles to attack problems resulting in innovative discoveries and wildly successful products.

Best wishes,

Phillip Chu
Class of ’97, M.S.

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