Sharon Cload, vice president, molecular discovery technologies

Running the lab

For Sharon Cload, vice president, molecular discovery technologies, possibility lives at the starting line.

January 15, 2019     

Acareer dedicated to discovering new drugs can often feel like a marathon – scientists face unexpected hurdles, exhibit undying perseverance and dream of the rush of crossing the finish line. No one knows this better than Sharon Cload, vice president of molecular discovery technologies at Bristol Myers Squibb.

By day, Cload runs a multidisciplinary, cross-functional team of scientists at the Cambridge R&D lab site who work alongside biologists to create molecular models, in order to better understand how a certain drug may interact with its intended target. This process can take years.

But drug discovery isn’t the only marathon on her mind – in spring 2019, the Boston Marathon will mark her 20th 26.2-mile race.

“I did research for a long time before I started running marathons, but a lot of the core skills transfer really well – determination, endurance and self-motivation,” Cload says. “In the lab, a lot of your experiments are going to fail, and what makes a good scientist is being able to apply those learnings to future work. The same goes for running – each run builds upon what you’ve picked up during your training, to help you deal with whatever a particular course may throw at you.”

Boston Marathon

In November 2018, Bristol Myers Squibb opened the doors of its Cambridge R&D facility, to increase its focus on translational medicine and immuno-oncology (I-O) resistance, in addition to research across a number of other key disease states. Through its open-lab and open-office configuration, the site stresses the importance of collaboration, another theme mirrored in Sharon’s race experience. 

“One of my all-time marathon highlights was running London in 2010. It was the slowest marathon of my life – I was injured and limped the whole way, but I had three friends who stayed with me the whole time, and it was such a great race,” Cload says. “In the lab, the same lessons apply. The work we do necessitates working together – we have an open environment where people from different scientific disciplines are mixed together, with the hope that we'll form new connections and be able to drive ideas forward more quickly.”

Bristol Myers Squibb is at the starting line in Cambridge and Sharon is optimistic about the  race ahead. 

“I couldn't be more excited about getting started, and delivering on the promise of what this site can be - leveraging both the external environment and a great team of scientists here at Bristol Myers Squibb,” Cload says. “It’s been a long journey here, and we’re ready to hit the ground running and deliver for patients.”

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