Tim LaBranche, DVM, PhD
“I wanted to be a veterinarian, so after high school I left the suburbs to study what I thought was “animal” + “science” at Virginia Tech. I soon found myself castrating piglets and calculating feed stuff rations as an Animal Science major in the College of Agriculture. The faculty were great and I loved the adventure, so I stuck with it.
“Along the way I fell in love with pharmacology and through the Pre-Vet Club I was able to meet members of the faculty at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. In fact, several of them would later become my mentors: Dr’s Peter Eyre, Marion Ehrich, and John Robertson (aka Dr. Bob). I enrolled in the PhD program to focus on pharmacology and toxicology, and then later also enrolled in the DVM program where I was in the Public/Corporate Track.
“After several fourth-year rotations at the FDA and pharmaceutical companies, I decided to pursue a pathology residency at the University of Georgia’s College of Vet Med so I could work in drug discovery and development. I then joined Pfizer in St Louis which is their R&D hub for discovering new treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases - this fit well with my research interests. At Pfizer, I learned why it’s important to characterize the cellular/molecular mechanisms of disease if you want to discover new medicines that actually modify the disease process. I was able to collaborate and publish with some amazing people at Washington University in St Louis.
“After moving to the Boston area in 2010 I shifted my career more towards drug development, and eventually joined Blueprint Medicines in 2015 to help build a new Preclinical Drug Safety team.
“Fast forward to today - I lead a team that is helping develop new cancer medicines in various stages of discovery and clinical development. We work closely with our biology and chemistry colleagues, as well as clinicians and colleagues in regulatory affairs, business development, finance, accounting, and manufacturing. In a small company setting you learn how it “takes a village” and we all wear different hats. It’s challenging, but we get better each successive year.
“To that point, my advice: Seek challenges and continue to push yourself into new places. Keep the big picture in focus, your goal is to progress from a student, to an expert, to a leader, to a mentor. Enjoy the ride!"