Michael Elbaum, Class of 2003
After graduating from DVFS, Mike thought he had his life planned out. He intended to attend college as a history major and then to travel the world as a SCUBA instructor. However, working as a Divemaster at Aqua Hut in Ardmore, he realized that this was not the most ideal career and diving became more of a hobby. He had always had a passion for science, so decided that after completing his history degree at Rider University he would take an additional two years of chemistry and math courses.
While at Rider, he became very interested in organic chemistry, specifically organic synthesis. He started his own research project, for which he designed topical glue that could release anti-biotics into an open wound while keeping it closed. He spent a year at Rider synthesizing his monomer, ultimately presenting his research at the American Chemical Society conference in Boston. Although no longer at Rider, the project he started continues today.
Mike gained a position as an intern at Medical Diagnostic Laboratories, a company that designs and performs clinical diagnostic testing for patients. He worked in the Cancer Cell Biology division conducting molecular biology and epigenetic research on bladder cancer. After six months his team had successfully designed a non-invasive urine test for bladder cancer, which is currently being moved to clinical trials and he expects a publication for his work later this year. Currently Mike is working as a Research Associate in the Medicinal Chemistry department of Venenum Biodesign, a company that focuses on high throughput drug screening and drug targeting.
Having decided to pursue a career in synthetic organic chemistry, he was recently accepted into the PhD candidacy program at the University of Delaware for organic chemistry and is set to begin classes and research in the fall of 2011.
While at DVFS Mike gained confidence in both himself and the mathematical fundamentals he needed to succeed. He had always thought that if he did well in exams, homework was not important. He realized that homework was assigned not only to reinforce the material, but also to learn study skills needed later in life. It was important that communication between DVFS and his parents instilled in him certain study habits needed four and five years down the road. Mike attributes much of his success as a scientist to the teachers at DVFS who stressed the fundamentals of being both a good student and a good person.
Mike has two messages for current and future DVFS students and graduates:
“First, thinking and seeing the world differently may be considered a learning disability at basic levels of schooling, but in the world of scientific research they are advantages. Second, it is never too late to do what you want in life.”