Molly Westfield (B.S. Biochemistry '18) draws on her research background to develop vaccines at a biotechnology startup
CBS alumnae Molly Westfield (left) and her colleague Dr. Leah Randles in the Syntiron lab.
Job title: Research Associate I/Biochemist
You work at University Enterprise Lab, a collaborative work space for early-stage ventures in life sciences, biomedical, and technology. Can you talk a little bit about your business and what you hope it achieves?
I work for a small biotechnology company called Syntiron. We are currently working on developing a vaccine to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). We are hoping to reduce the amount of antibiotics used to treat UTIs, therefore battling the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
On a typical day, I could be performing a wide variety of tasks. Some days I work on purifying recombinant proteins in the lab using chromatography, or testing protein stability. Other days, I may be working with my colleagues in the animal research facility. Since we are a small company, we need to be cross-trained in just about every aspect of the research. This means that I could be performing tasks in microbiology, biochemistry and immunology all in one day.
What is the most noteworthy work accomplishment that you've had since graduation?
Since working at Syntiron, I’ve developed a couple strategies to reduce endotoxin levels in our proteins throughout the purification process. This is a common problem when purifying recombinant proteins from E. coli. By reducing endotoxin levels, we are able to use batches of protein that were otherwise unusable.
What was your favorite CBS course as an undergraduate and why?
My favorite CBS course was BIOC 4351 Protein Engineering. This course was challenging, but highly rewarding. The highlight of the course was the semester long project that required us to use the knowledge and skills gained during the lectures.