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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

August 2018

Two-time NIEHS trainee lands position in biopharma

Douglas Ganini da Silva, Ph.D., transitioned June 4 from his work as a postdoctoral research fellow at NIEHS to nearby KBI Biopharma.

Douglas Ganini da Silva Ganini is known for his excellent cooking, especially baking. On the scientific side, Mason commended his creative, technical, communicative, and personal skills. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Douglas Ganini da Silva, Ph.D., transitioned June 4 from a postdoctoral research position at NIEHS to a Scientist I position at nearby KBI Biopharma. Ganini da Silva will be working at the Research Triangle Park location of the international contract development and manufacturing corporation.

Focus on free radicals

As a postdoctoral fellow, Ganini da Silva performed research in the Free Radical Metabolism Group, led by Ron Mason, Ph.D., who is now an NIEHS scientist emeritus. Ganini da Silva worked with enzymes involved in the generation of free radicals in vivo. Free radicals are typically reactive and unstable, and the name refers to their unpaired electrons. When present in high levels, free radicals harm the human body by triggering a process called oxidative stress.

To detect and quantify free radicals and oxidants in both cells and in living animals, Ganini da Silva used skills in biochemistry, cell culture, and working with animal models.

Ron Mason Mason’s pioneering role in the study of free radicals was celebrated during “Free Radicals: Past, Present and Future,” a symposium held in his honor at NIEHS. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

“Douglas’s innovative approach to solving problems allows him to constantly develop and apply new techniques to the methodological and theoretical part of his research,” Mason said. “He established a network of collaborations with multiple researchers at NIEHS and outside the institute. Douglas is among the top of the many postdoctoral fellows I have had in my group through the years.”

The power of networking

Ganini da Silva focused on networking both within and outside of the institute during his job search. “[Networking] is a skill that needs to be learned and developed,” he said. “It was essential and led me to my job at KBI Biopharma.”

He credited the ELITE Consortium as a major factor in his KBI Biopharma position. ELITE, or Enhancing Local Industry Transitions Through Explorations, is an NIEHS-initiated partnership among NIEHS, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An ELITE experience introduced him to the company and led to an on-site visit, where Ganini da Silva knew he wanted to pursue a career there.

Embracing high standards

Ganini da Silva is well liked among colleagues at NIEHS. “I have seen Douglas interact with his peers, postdoctoral fellows, and students in the laboratory, and I am impressed with his ability to establish professional, efficient, and friendly relations with both senior scientists and younger colleagues,” said Mason. “He is an example of an individual who embraces high standards both professionally and personally.”

“His broad knowledge of science in general, his expertise in different areas of research, and his capability to see what is right and what is not drives his abilities to correctly hypothesize, establish a goal, and more importantly, unravel the challenge that motivates him,” Mason added.

A transformative experience

Ganini da Silva first came to NIEHS in 2010 as a visiting Ph.D. student from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. When he got the news that he would be working under Mason’s supervision at NIEHS for six months, Ganini da Silva noted, “[I was] stoked, shocked, and had no idea how [my] life would be transformed from that experience.”

At the end of the six months, Mason invited Ganini da Silva to come back as a fellow upon completing his degree. He arrived at NIEHS for the second time in September 2011. Among his many extracurricular activities the institute, Ganini da Silva was a volunteer writer for the Environmental Factor.

(Rachel Carroll, Ph.D., is a former postdoctoral fellow in the NIEHS Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch. She is now an assistant professor of statistics at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)

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