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CSB Alumni Spotlight: Dave Anderson, PhD

Posted by on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in News.

Dave Anderson, PhD

Dave Anderson, Ph.D., completed his doctoral work at the Medical College of Wisconsin under the direction of Dara Frank, Ph.D., before joining Borden Lacy’s lab as a postdoctoral research fellow in the summer of 2015.

What are your current job title and responsibilities? I am a research associate in the laboratory of Justin Merritt at the Dental School of the Oregon Health and Science University. The overarching theme is to develop a productive pipeline utilizing single particle cryo-EM to define structures of protein complexes pertinent to diseases involving the oral microbiome.

What was your path to your current job? I’ve been involved with research in the field of microbiology since my undergraduate days, but my time training in Borden Lacy’s laboratory built in to my current skill set fulfilling my role as part of our larger microbiome group at OHSU.

My ultimate goal is to initiate a startup utilizing a genetic system I am developing. The culmination of all of my microbiology, molecular and protein biology experience is facilitating the scientific foundation of this aim currently.

What is something you learned as a postdoc at Vanderbilt that has helped you in your career? I definitely would include everything pertaining to electron microscopy of proteins. Vanderbilt has such a diverse and expansive research infrastructure that I was able to get a feel for a lot of other scientific approaches. My thought process is much wider in scope thanks to my time at Vandy.

Do you use structural biology in your present job? How has knowledge of structural biology helped you in your career? I am developing a structural biology (i.e. cryo-EM) arm to our wider microbiome research program. Knowledge of structural biology is a wonderful background to have when it can be paired with the genetics field.

What advice would you give to young trainees? I would get a hold of a copy of a book called Mastery by Robert Greene. Its central thesis, in my view, is that true mastery of a craft takes a significant amount of quality time. Equally important is the accumulation of a wide knowledge base so that our brains can begin to find associations between distal components, which leads to creativity. Your scientific journey may not take a road that you had planned (this can be a good thing mind you), but a constant growth mindset should serve you well no matter the circumstances.

Is there anything in the structural bio world (structure, technique, etc.) that you think is especially cool right now? I’m not sure if this is a “thing” yet, but I am enamored with the prospect of purification of natively-expressed proteins for structure determination by cryo-EM.

Is there any other info, thoughts, advice, etc., that you’d like to share? If you are a rotation student who thinks they may be interested in structure who has read this far, I would check in with Borden Lacy and Ben Spiller.

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