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Chad Morreale

Chad Morreale

Medical Student

Midwestern University-Chicago

School of Osteopathic Medicine

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"My biggest fear upon graduation was that I wouldn't fulfill my career aspiration of becoming a physician. It's easy to settle into adulthood. Who can complain about a steady paycheck & every night & weekend free? With no one guiding my next step, it was difficult to stay motivated. My advice is to find your ambition and act on it. The hardest part about change is taking the first step. Although it is ok to be content, never become complacent."

What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

Major: Biochemistry (Chemistry) (ACS accredited)

Minor: Psychology

Graduate: May 2011

What was your most compelling class and why?

Organic chemistry was my most compelling class. Successfully completing organic chemistry is the first right of passage into becoming a chemist. Therein, I completely submersed myself in my organic studies and turned out to really love the subject…so much so that I went on to pursue it for undergraduate research as well as a career. One aspect I enjoy most about organic chemistry is the fundamental role it plays in understanding all other disciplines of chemistry, biology, and medicine. Since I wanted to become a physician, I thought the application of organic chemistry in pharmaceutical drug discovery was highly fascinating and relevant.

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

I have always been interested in pursuing a career in medicine, so when I came to Purdue I decided to major in chemistry. Through the early days of my coursework, I realized that chemists play a major role in the medical field so I delved into undergraduate research to investigate that opportunity further. I found a love for organic chemistry and its application to pharmaceutical drug discovery. As a medicinal chemist, I was able to synthesize drug candidates that will set the course for the future of medicine. Yet, after a couple years in industry, I found myself wanting to do more on the forefront to help people in need. At that point, I decided to pursue a career in healthcare where I aspire to:

  1. personally exercise evidence-based medicine in clinical decision-making and
  2. facilitate patient fulfillment and dignity by providing punctual intervention.

Did you pursue internships/co-ops, research experiences, volunteer, or join student organizations while you attended Purdue?

I had one summer internship with Novartis, a major pharmaceutical company, and I performed undergraduate research for three years. Currently, the job market for an organic chemist, bachelor or graduate level, is quite bleak. So, unfortunately a recent graduate gets thrown into a highly experienced and qualified applicant pool. Having my additional training throughout school made a big difference skill-wise and network-wise. First and foremost, to perform any job, you have to have the necessary skill set. My internship and undergraduate research allowed me to master the current laboratory practices, as well as become exposed to new technologies.

Arguably just as important, these experiences allowed me to build a professional network throughout the academic and industry communities. Having a connection within a company expedites the hiring process dramatically and enhances your credibility as a candidate. I have personally seen the benefits of networking through receiving multiple job offers as well as having the opportunity to internally recommend a colleague who was later offered a job.     

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?

After graduating, I returned home to Chicago to look for a job. I accepted a position with Abbott Laboratories where I worked as an analytical chemist to support the drug metabolism department in preclinical and clinical studies. While I was working there, I was simultaneously studying for the MCAT in order to pursue my true career aspiration of becoming a physician. After six months at Abbott, I decided to leave and accept a position with AMRI (Albany Molecular Research, Inc.) as an organic chemist. AMRI signed a contract with Eli Lilly (Indianapolis) to provide in-house support for their medicinal chemistry and process chemistry groups. This in-sourcing business venture is the first of its kind for the drug discovery industry. While onsite at Lilly, I work among AMRI and Lilly chemists to synthesize drug candidates for cancer and musculoskeletal therapeutic projects. 

What are you currently working on?

I am currently a Research Scientist (Medicinal Chemistry) for Albany Molecular Research, Inc (AMRI). AMRI and Eli Lilly have signed an in-sourcing collaboration where a team of AMRI scientists and I work on-site at Lilly’s headquarters to provide drug discovery services. Daily, I practice organic chemistry in synthesizing, purifying, and characterizing small molecule drug candidates for biological activity testing. Based on the activity profile, I then derivatize the drug to achieve the desired activity profile.

Additionally, I will be leaving my position at AMRI to begin medical school at the end of July 2013 at Midwestern University.

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