I sit here writing this between two distinct stages in my life. The one that is ending is my time at med school! Glad to report that I got through to the end. I'm not going to lie it felt pretty damn amazing to walk out of Winthrop Hall having finished my last exam to only go back in a month later to collect my degree. I wouldn't describe it as happiness or joy but more like relief.
I also finished an incredible year at PYC Therapeutics. I have never had to learn so much in such a short amount of time as I did when I joined PYC. The learning curve was more like a vertical line but I was surrounded by ridculously intelligent and patient colleagues who helped every step of the way. Unfortunately I can't talk about all the cool stuff I worked on there (commercial biotech is a forest of red tape) but who knows maybe there'll be a paper with my work on it soon. What I definitely can talk about is how different it is to work in a well funded pharmaceuticals company vs. doing research at university, hint - it's chalk and cheese. You act differently when the standard is set by your peers and not by some boomer who "reviews" papers for a living. However I think the most important difference is context. Everything I did at PYC was in the context of a bigger picture. There were people that needed what I was building soon or their experiments wouldn't work, and then the people who depended on those experiments couldn't do anything and so on. Everything within the company is linked and failure modes that aren't thought about carefully flow on from team to team. It took me a while to get the hang of this but by the end I found myself making decisions about whether something needed more tinkering or could be pushed out as is. Learning about the biotech industry as a whole was fascinating too - but I'll probably write something separate on this soon. Due to the nature of what PYC does there are lots of similarities as well like reading lots of papers and giving presentations to people who are quite a bit more switched on than you.
I was also lucky enough to work with my friends at VascLab again - now as part of a company called Navier Medical. The project (again lots of red tape sorry for being vague) was the culmination of 2 years of work building advanced AI methods to autonomously segment cardiac structures (like coronary arteries) from CT images. I'm super proud of this work and can't wait to see it in action as part of a larger product that gets used (finger's crossed) all around the world. The stuff Navier is doing is literally beyond the cutting edge and seeing how the medtech sausage gets made is really exciting.
All in all 2021 was a great year, I finished med school and I got to make meaningful contributions at 2 WA Innovator of the Year Award winners! And I haven't even talked about all the epic stuff that happened in my personal life!
If everything goes to plan 2022 will make 2021 look like a footnote. Stay tuned for my approximately weekly med intern blog and lots more!