Dr. Hemali Patel completed her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in 2008, and was a lead trainee for the QBP Journal Club. She is now the Senior Medical Science Liaison at Biogen, where she is a scientist working in the field of neuroimmunology. Her work involves catalyzing collaborations to solve the puzzle of remyelinating neurons and restoring function in persons living with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. (CV)

As part of the journal club, trainees took turns to select journal articles for group discussion. “We had some very interesting articles, incorporating quantitative biology approaches, ranging from naturally-occurring antibiotics found in microbes in soil to intriguing patterns of reproduction in Komodo dragons in Indonesia.”

While more collaborative team experiences would have been valuable to leverage diverse skillsets, she highlighted quantitative skills gained from this experience. Being able to quantify, analyze, and break down multi-factorial problems into actionable projects proved most valuable to her current career. She also highlighted the importance of keeping a healthy work-life balance. “There is life outside of the lab. Enjoy your graduate school experience.”

To current trainees, she shared two common phrases: “What gets measured, gets done.” And “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” These phrases can guide you in your dissertation journey. If you have a hypothesis, start measuring it. Do the experiment. Quantify everything you can measure. If you don’t have the measurements, it’s just speculation and literature review. Once you have some data, and it’s still inconclusive, don’t give up. Your dissertation problem won’t be solved in a day, a week, or even a year. It takes many small steps, but the journey won’t continue if you don’t keep taking the first step after any pauses. Keep going.