In the MiNDS of our Alumni

Interview with Christal Gray

Dr. Christal Gray graduated from the MiNDS program in 2013 and is currently a medical liason for Amgen Canada. She completed her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Ram Mishra and was a stand out student with tremendous success in the MiNDS program. After graduating she worked as a research assistant and medical editor before moving on to the large pharmaceutical giant Amgen. Christal took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of our questions; and she really does take busy to a whole new level (she is constantly on the go covering the whole of Canada as a prominent medical liaison and is also a full time family woman, mother, and wife).

Q. Please explain in some detail what it is that you are currently working on (give us an idea of your ‘job description’).

A. I am currently a Medical Liaison in the Biotechnology industry. My role involves significant travel within Canada to communicate to interested physicians the complexities of our clinical trials and cutting edge literature in the field.

Q. In what ways do you feel that the MiNDS program helped prepare you for your current career?

A. MiNDS was an excellent program that brought together some of the greatest mentors and faculty at McMaster University. Dr. Ram Mishra was an outstanding mentor who taught me effective communication. Our Meeting of the MiNDS journal clubs and regular in-class presentations encouraged the types of thought and discussions that I have on a typical day in my current job.

Q. Could you elaborate on how you went from being a MiNDS student to the position you have today? What steps did you take to launch your career specifically? 

A. Upon completion of my degree, I worked as a Research Assistant for a couple months. Concurrently, I was hired to do some consulting work with a small Biotechnology company. Within three months I was brought on full time as part of their Research and Education Department. Two years after that, I started looking for something new and my current position was advertised. I found it online, submitted an application, attended interviews and was offered the position. Networking is an incredibly valuable tool but for the positions that I have actually worked in I submitted an application and was given the opportunity.

Q. What were some of your fondest memories of being a MiNDS student?

A. My favourite times as a MiNDS student were the morning Timmy’s runs, where we enjoyed our coffees sitting on the floor outside of our lab; late night experiments where we would coordinate our incubating times and then run out for a lab dinner together. I loved being surrounded by some incredibly intelligent people who were also a lot of fun.

Q. Do you have any advice for current MiNDS students who are unsure of how to translate their current research interests into a potential career path?

A. You have developed a unique skill set that is very valuable. When I was getting started several different people told me, spend some time thinking about what you really want to do. Once you start achieving experience in one area/industry, making a switch to a completely new area can be challenging. So figure out if you like numbers, communication, policies or “hands on” science functions. You are trained for all of these things by being in the MiNDS program. Choose what you really like to do and give it your all!