Starting Monday, I will finally be off the Government Dole. I've taken a position as a Post Doctoral Researcher at New England Biolabs, which is widely reputed to be the best place to work in biotech/pharma. While the salary is a bit less than I was getting in my heady startup days, the company is pretty ridiculously great. The only drawback for me is that they are in Ipswich, which is going to mean some combination of complicated long commute and/or moving near North Station or up Route 1. I really love living in Cambridge, so I'm not terribly excited about that...but the company is definitely worth figuring it out.
I'll be studying T4 DNA Ligase biochemistry (mechanism and kinetics). DNA Ligase is a critically important enzyme to biotechnology, as its what you use to put together plasmids with specialty genes. Interestingly while Ligase has been a tool used for decades, not a whole lot of basic biochemistry research has been done on the enzyme, and there hasn't been a lot of effort to make mutants with different substrate specificity, so that's what I'll be working on. You may wonder how I can explain my project at a private company, but one of the awesome things about NEB is that they have such insane piles of money (they basically own the patents on every important enzyme in biotechnology) that they can fund a fair amount of purely academic basic research, and everything I do there will be publishable.
It's possible new products could come out of my work, but if it is going that way that portion of my project would be branched off into the hands of the product development team. But there's no strict need to produce a new product from my work. NEB is employee owned, so there's no stock and no shareholders and only the management sets policy. So it's completely possible to work on projects with no direct profit motive.
The location itself is awesome (though far away). The main building is basically an art museum that happens to have chemistry labs in it. It is located on a 160 acre nature preserve in Ipswich, with available hiking and other outdoors spaces. The company also has three historic buildings on site incorporated into the modern business (Mostly Hall). On site we get a free gym, free massage therapy, free lunch once a week, plus a pile of benefits like all the standards and even a pension plan.
The other thing I'm probably doing this summer is picking up some part time teaching work, doing MCAT review classes for the Princeton review. I'm signed up and accepted for training, anyway, and all approved from NEB to do a little moonlighting. It remains to be seen if a schedule can be created that will accommodate a couple classes, but I'm optimistic.
So soon I will go from having all the time in the world to like no time at all...