USciences Graduate Finds Success and Satisfaction at GlaxoSmithKline

By Erin O'Boyle

Published on April 17, 2019

Michael DonohueMichael Donohue BioC’18, associate scientist at GlaxoSmithKline, within the Biopharmaceutical Product Sciences (BPS) department, is helping create new pharmaceutical products and delivery systems, a job he credits to his experience at USciences. 

“At USciences, I learned how to design and ask scientific questions that would lead to valid answers accepted by the scientific community,” he said. “I developed a skill set for how to communicate scientific ideas and write scientific reports that would be respected in the community. In my undergraduate research, I learned how to perform industry-like experiments to generate data that could improve public knowledge on a given area of science.”

A transfer student into the undergraduate chemistry program where he ultimately majored in biochemistry, Donohue couldn’t have imagined he would be working as a scientist.  Just years before, he was working as an audio engineer at various recording studios and music venues after obtaining a degree in music composition but was struggling to make ends meet and wasn’t completely satisfied.

“Asking the question ‘what should I do now’ kept pointing to the same conclusion – something related to chemistry,” said Donohue “Chemistry had been my other big love besides music.”

Michael Donohue Music
Donohue getting ready to mix music while on tour in Indonesia.

It was challenging getting back into chemistry after years in the music industry, and Donohue worried that he had forgotten much of his previous chemistry knowledge. “Many of the professors went above and beyond helping me relearn basic concepts that traditional students would recall,” he said. “Dr. Grace Farber sat with me during her office hours explaining a positive and negative control.” Donohue also cites graduate student Adetoun Adeniji-Adele as extremely helpful in his education, helping him to become comfortable working in a lab and thinking like a scientist.

A successful student, Donohue earned a spot on the Dean’s List for all four years at USciences and was a recipient of the President’s Scholarship, given to students maintaining a GPA of 3.50+. He was also awarded the USciences Scholarship as a promising biochemistry major. In addition, Donohue was the recipient of the 2016 Gibbs Undergraduate Summer Research Grant Recipient, from the Department of Biological Sciences.

He received the 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and that same year was awarded the USciences Outstanding Undergraduate Research Presentation Award, where he placed 2nd among 50 participants. In 2018, Donohue won the Louis A. Reber PhD Graduation Research Award, given to an outstanding research project and presentation to the faculty.

Michael Donohue on Tour
 Donohue on tour in Hong Kong.

Upon graduation Donohue had several job offers from pharmaceutical companies and was prepared to begin work as a scientist. His current research supports drug product and delivery systems for protein and peptide-based therapeutics. “The research I’m generating supports the manufacture of drugs in Phase I, II, and III clinical trials as well as drugs presently being sold on the market,” he said. 

Donohue credits his degree from USciences as what has given him a strong base in protein chemistry, and the fundamental sciences necessary for his work.

Communication and asking questions are important to Donohue for a successful undergraduate education. “Don’t be shy at USciences,” he offers as advice for prospective students. “Go talk to professors about their research labs and get involved in an area that interests you. Everyone I dealt with at USciences went above and beyond to help me achieve my goals.”

When asked where he sees himself in the future, Donohue responded, “I see myself being a mentor to help others achieve their own career goals.”

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