FEB 05, 2014 12:00 PM PST

Reinforcing the Backbone

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  • Senior Associate Scientist, In-Vivo Resource Center, Biogen Idec
      Matt entered the research field over 24 years ago as a lab animal technician at the TSI/Mason contract research facility. Since then, he has worked at contract facilities such as TSI and OREAD Biosafety as well as in industry at Pharmacia, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, and Biogen. During that period he has performed a variety of surgical procedures including device implantation, transplants, orthopedic defect, ocular and vascular implants, cardiac surgery, and brain and spinal procedures. His experience ranges from mice and rats to non-human primates and livestock. In addition, he holds four patents for novel surgical devices and implants and has been training technicians, scientists, veterinarians, and physicians in surgical techniques and procedures for over 18 years. Outside of the surgical realm, he has been a study director, sonographer, Safety Pharmacology scientist, and manager. Currently Matt supervises a team of associates at Biogen who conduct surgical and non-surgical studies. Matt was also on the board of directors for the Academy of Surgical Research for over ten years, serving as their program chair for three of them as well as educational chair for two. Currently he is the program chairman for the New England branch of AALAS.


    It is commonly recognized that technicians are the backbone of a successful animal research program. Unfortunately, the invisible contributions that they make as well as the valuable high level contributions they could make are often missed. In addition, ambitious and talented technicians can feel trapped in a position that limits their contributions and mobility. This paradigm can be broken by focusing on team development, continuing scientific education, communication training, and leadership skills. Actual case studies and development progressions will be used to present strategies for the technician to advance their skills and make themselves more valuable both as technical experts and leaders. Additionally, leadership tips will be offered for managers and scientists to fully develop the potential of their technicians and learn from them as well.

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