A Day in the Life of a CDoT Research Scientist

Valeria, Research Scientist in Translational Pharmacology

Valeria“As a research scientist at CDoT, I have an exciting and diverse role. I lead projects and handle the biology side of things across different therapeutic areas. While I do spend time in the lab, my responsibilities go beyond that.

Being a project lead allows me to expand my skill set in many ways. I get to design work plans that move projects forward through the different stages of drug discovery. I collaborate with amazing teams from different backgrounds and have the chance to interact with academic and funding partners. It's a great learning experience!

But it's not all planning and meetings. I also spend time in the lab, where I get to validate targets and hypotheses, develop cell-based assays, and dig into active compounds' mechanisms of action. It's thrilling to be part of the early stages of drug discovery and see how far we can take a finding, with the hope that one day it becomes a therapy that helps patients.

Working at CDoT offers additional benefits. I enjoy a flexible schedule that allows me to participate in workshops, attend classes, and join seminars. We also have a vibrant social scene, with events like baking competitions and ice cream socials. The friendly atmosphere and supportive colleagues make it easier to navigate challenges and handle deadlines.

All in all, being a research scientist at CDoT allows me to contribute to cutting-edge drug discovery, work with amazing colleagues, and continuously learn and grow both personally and professionally. It's an incredible journey!”


Elena, Research Scientist in Medicinal Chemistry

Elena“CDoT works with, and is often the bridge between, academic groups and pharma companies. The advantage of being a fundamental link like this is that we get to be involved in all the steps of drug discovery: from target identification/validation to hit-to-lead and lead optimization.

I am project co-lead and chemistry lead of two projects in different therapeutic areas: oncology and neuroscience. As chemistry lead my job consists in carrying out structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies to validate hits and design compounds with improved biological and physicochemical properties. Such optimized compounds are used for proof-of-concept studies in vivo. The synthesis of molecules is mainly carried out at contract research organizations (CROs); in my projects, I manage CRO-based chemists and work with them to find the best and fastest routes to prepare the desired compounds.

As project co-lead, I am involved in strategic decision making, experimental and study planning, and financial and personnel allocation. I also update internal Broad and external collaborator stakeholders on project progress. I am also working towards becoming CDoT’s point of contact for drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) study development; I will support the group by guiding when in vivo projects reach the proof of concept stage.

I am also highly involved with Broad community. For instance, I chair the Women@Broad affinity group, and I work closely with the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Allyship (IDEA) to continuously improve our workplace and make it more diverse and accessible for everybody.

I came at Broad with a completely different background than a traditional medicinal chemist, but this gave me a different perspective on the projects. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to work in such a multidisciplinary environment, where you can share your competencies and learn new ones every day.”


Guillaume, Research Scientist in Structural Biology/Protein Science

Guillaume“There’s no normal here at CDoT - every day brings something different. It’s not just ‘rinse and repeat’. I’m responsible for achieving the scientific objectives for my drug discovery project. This includes determining how - for example I write protocols and develop constructs - as well as the timeline.

I particularly enjoy the ability to learn new things and then apply them to my job. For example, I’m working on an initiative to automate the protein screening process with a liquid handler. At CDoT we have lots of knowledgeable, competent people and lots of instruments. In addition, the PIs (Primary Investigators) are proximal and accessible - this gives me access to world experts in technologies.

It’s compelling to get to work with the research labs that are discovering novel targets. Broad really is at the forefront of target identification. Another great aspect of working at CDoT is the flexible working hours. CDoT and Broad are very family friendly.”


Jason, Research Scientist in Translational Pharmacology

Jason“Every day at CDoT is different and I don’t feel like I’m just turning the crank on something. On average, I spend about 50% of my time in the lab, designing assays and working to obtain proof of concept. I get to work in scientific areas where no path has yet been carved and therefore, I have to come up with a way to do something new. I also spend time mentoring junior lab staff in assay execution, supervising execution, and helping to interpret their results.

The other 50% of my time is non-lab work, which includes my activities as a Project Team Leader. As a Project Leader I am responsible for planning project activities, determining the essential experiments and deciding what tools and resources are needed. I also have to work out how best to communicate our progress. In all these activities, I work with my project team partners in our pharma collaboration, and really value the back and forth intellectual dialogue with them.

I also get to spend time discovering Broad science, through Broad-wide seminars, talks and events. These give me a window into academic research at the Broad, which can have a different flavor than therapeutics. I get to see where the scientific edge is at the Broad and have an idea about what new science is coming next.”


Ranjith, Research Scientist in High Content Imaging

Ranjith Muraleedharan“As a Research Scientist at the Center for Development of Therapeutics (CDoT) working in the High Content Imaging group, I am responsible for developing phenotypic assays and conducting high content screening to identify potential therapeutic candidates. High content screening (HCS) refers to the use of automated microscopy and image analysis techniques to examine cellular samples and identify biologically active compounds or targets. It allows for the simultaneous assessment of multiple cellular parameters, such as morphology, protein localization, and signaling pathways. By utilizing HCS, researchers can analyze large compound or CRISPR libraries, and screen for potential drug candidates in a high-throughput manner.

I start my day by engaging in a morning routine that helps me focus and prepare for the day ahead. This includes activities like reviewing your research objectives, prioritizing tasks, designing experimental details, and setting goals for the day. I spend a significant portion of my day conducting experiments in the lab, for example studying new drug compounds, investigating disease mechanisms, or exploring genetic variations, each experiment contributes to the larger mission.

I dive into high content screening experiments using the advanced imaging systems available in the High Content Imaging group. I set up the experimental conditions, prepare the samples, and optimize the imaging parameters to capture the desired phenotypic or molecular features. After the completion of experiments and screening, I analyze the acquired data using advanced image analysis software. Extract meaningful information, quantify phenotypic changes, and generate comprehensive reports. Then communicate findings, interpretations, and suggestions for further analysis to ensure the research objectives are met.

I dedicate time to meeting with researchers from the Broad Institute and other Harvard and MIT affiliates to provide expert advice on imaging techniques, assay design, and image analysis methodologies. 

Collaboration is deeply ingrained in the culture at CDoT. I engage in collaborative meetings and brainstorming sessions with your team, here I also get to present my recent data and bounce ideas, seek advice, and gain valuable insights that can push my research forward. CDoT recognizes the importance of continuous learning and provides opportunities for professional growth. You participate in seminars, workshops, or training sessions offered by renowned scientists. 

As the day comes to a close, I allocate time for documentation, ensuring that all experimental procedures, protocols, and results are accurately recorded. I update project management systems and track project progress. 

At CDoT, you are part of a vibrant and talented community of scientists. You wake up with a sense of excitement, knowing that you are surrounded by experts who have extensive knowledge in drug development. These scientists are driven by the belief that our work can make a meaningful impact on the lives of patients.”