Jennifer CAIRNS, Ph.D
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Postdoc at IMCB 1990 - 1993
I was at IMCB from 1990-1993 working on TNF signal transduction with Graeme Guy who was the Principal Investigator of the group. Prior to joining IMCB, I was doing a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Department of Immunology of the University of Birmingham, UK where I had met Graeme Guy.
In 1990, on a vacation to Malaysia (where I am from, originally), I met up with Graeme in Singapore, who then introduced me to Chris Tan (the then Director of IMCB) . Chris offered me an opportunity to come back to live and work in Singapore on a three-year expatriate contract at IMCB, which I accepted. At the time, I had not lived in Malaysia for more than 15 years, having spent all the time in the UK. I accepted Chris' offer thinking that it would be good opportunity to return to the Far East even for three years.
My first impression of IMCB was this very imposing prestigious glass building perched on top of a hill. The IMCB laboratories offered "state of the art" equipment and technology that I had not seen before in my previous life in academia in the UK. The quality of the research work at IMCB was second to none, with publications in prestigious journals such as Cell and Nature. I remember the Saturday Lab meetings with everyone in Graeme's group - "a show and tell" of the previous week's successful and not-so-successful SDS gels and Western blots but what I remember most is the camaraderie within the group. During my three-year stay at IMCB, I met some very good friends and excellent scientists. Most of all, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience IMCB and to live in Singapore where the food and shopping is quite unlike anywhere else!
I left IMCB in 1993 to return to the UK for another post-doctoral research fellowship. In 1997, I made a decision to leave academia and joined a French Pharmaceutical company (Rhone Poulenc Rorer) at their UK Research site just outside London. A few years later, in the heels of another merger, the company relocated me to the United Sates. Despite numerous company mergers and acquisitions (a fact of life within the pharmaceutical industry), I am still with the same company seventeen years later, although the company name has now changed.
About 8 years ago, I made the move from Research into Regulatory Affairs and this is where I am today. In this role, I interface with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in Washington on behalf of the company for various projects and I think my previous background as a research scientist has been extremely valuable in this regard. When I look back, I'd like to think that my affiliation with IMCB did have an impact on my successful move into the industry. I distinctly recall the interviewer at my first interview with a pharmaceutical company looking up from my resume and saying , "I see you were at IMCB - I've heard of it - isn't that a famous research institute in Singapore?"