A Day in the Life of a CDoT Research Associate

Allison, CDoT Research Associate in Medicinal Chemistry

“Since joining the medicinal chemistry team in CDoT I have learned so much about drug design and executing synthesis. I have always been drawn to the hands-on nature of research, so I enjoy spending almost every day in the lab running reactions and using instruments such as purification systems, evaporation systems, LC/MS (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry), and SFC (supercritical fluid chromatography). In chemistry, there are many ways to make one compound, and knowing what condition is best often comes from experience. As an early-career chemist, I often assimilate suggestions from senior chemists then try each condition so that I can see the results, record them, and learn for myself. Being part of a CDoT project team is very motivating because I know my teammates are eager to test the compounds I synthesize. 

I am thankful for the support of my manager and colleagues as I prepare to apply for graduate school. They are eager to provide advice about the application process and help me strengthen my chemistry knowledge. When troubleshooting reactions, they often have me draw on the white board and engage in discussions about the mechanism. I am also encouraged to present at group meetings where I receive and provide feedback with my teammates. Group meetings are also an opportunity to hear from guest speakers and learn about their career paths. 

In addition to my chemistry responsibilities, I lead the BroadRATS* affinity group, which provides professional and career development programs for the associate-level scientists at the Broad. My manager encourages my participation in BroadRATS as the group connects me with scientists and leaders throughout the Broad. As I work with different offices around the Broad, I am developing my multitasking, time management, and people organization skills. I am passionate about supporting the BroadRATS population, and want to help foster a positive work environment for early career scientists at the Broad.”

*Research Associates, Associate Computational Biologists, Technical Specialists, and Associate Software Engineers


Michelle, CDoT Research Associate in Translational Pharmacology

“As a CDOT RA in the Translational Pharmacology group, the majority of my time is spent in the lab running cell-based assays.  I enjoy the challenge of helping develop and optimize assays to be used in drug screening, target validation and SAR in collaboration with project leads and medicinal chemists.  As an RA, there is always data to be delivered, and I like that I have ownership of my data here and get to work on my data analysis and presentation skills.  I have really expanded my technical expertise in the short time that I’ve been here with a variety of assay types and instrumentation.  I also have the opportunity to train more junior RAs in running assays and analyzing data.  From my experience, while supported by supervisors and project team members, RAs in CDOT get to work quite independently, which has helped me learn and grow professionally and gain confidence in my scientific abilities and decision-making.  

As members of CDOT we all work hard at multi-tasking with several therapeutics projects on our plates at any given time, so it is important to feel that my input and contributions are appreciated here.  Beyond all of that, there is the unique experience of working within the larger community of the Broad Institute.  It is truly motivating to come to work at a place where you are surrounded by amazing science on a daily basis.  

The scientific exposure alone is worth being here for, but the Broad is also very committed to the overall well-being of its researchers with all kinds of benefits ranging from yoga and meditation to a variety of affinity groups, like the Broad RATS.  As a working mother, I especially appreciate the flexibility of the workday here and feel that I have a good work-life balance with the ability to get things done in a way that makes sense for me personally.”


Mike, CDoT Research Associate in Biochemistry

“Science, in general, is a challenging area. When my experiments don’t produce expected results, I have to parse through the data and check every step to see what could have gone wrong. After I make adjustments, I retest. If the experiment still fails, I take a big step back and brainstorm with other scientists at CDoT about what might have gone wrong and get different perspectives. Even team members who aren’t directly involved in the project are happy to help, and get invested in the experiment and the data as well. Eventually we may need to rethink the path forward and restructure the work — maybe by attacking different sites or reworking the chemistry. In this way, I really get to use my creativity. I also get to improve my communication skills as I work with others to brainstorm, and then to present my data and ideas to my project team. 

Fortunately, the scientists at CDoT are not only brilliant, but also friendly. In this environment, with so many different scientific specialties, I can find the help I need and also grow my own knowledge. Because I am part of cross-functional teams, such as the PRISM team, I get exposed to a variety of in vitro and in vivo experiments. I find the different types of data interesting and I like to see how they match my biochemical data.

CDoT is a cohesive group and hosts lots of community events, such as the “Great Broadish Bake-Off'' and the annual “Ice Cream Social,” just to name a few. There are opportunities to be social if that is what you like to do. CDoT also recognizes people with a frequently-used spot award system, which is a good way to get visibility for your work. But what motivates me on a daily basis is producing meaningful, worthwhile data that moves our drug discovery projects forward.”


Sean, CDoT Research Associate in Compound Management

"I am relatively new to the Broad and CDoT, but I have already had the opportunity to grow my skills. My job entails a lot of hands-on work, using many of the skills I already had from working in a chemistry wet lab such as pipetting, weighing dry material, using centrifuges and evaporators. However, I have also learned how to use automation in the lab such as liquid handlers and was able to attend specialized equipment training which provided me with an understanding of the back end of the automated systems and how they work. I’ve also started learning about compound quality control and working with our informatics systems. In addition to technical skills, I have continued to improve my organizational skills and have established a good system to ensure that my work is prioritized.

The Compound Management group works closely with the Bioautomation team, and we are a tight team that gets along well. My supervisor is also very flexible and I am free to come up with my own ways to accomplish a task; she gives me a good balance of direction and autonomy.

CDoT has a relaxed and friendly culture and I’ve gotten to know people quickly, even despite the fact that many people are still working remotely. I like the fact that I get to assist with such a large number of projects. It’s cool to impact the ability of so many different scientists in performing their experiments."