May Alumni Spotlight - Payal Patel ScM'16
1. Tell us about your background. When did you graduate from Brown? What has your career path been like since graduating from Brown? What made you choose your employer/position?
I received my BS from University of California, Irvine and my ScM from Brown University in Biomedical Engineering. As an undergrad, I conducted research at the Beckman Laser Institute on metabolic tissue function using Diffuse Optical Spectroscopic Imaging. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I worked in R&D at a startup dental company for a few years, Sonendo Inc., as a Senior Biomedical Engineer, where I developed and implemented R&D protocols and preclinical in-vitro models for a novel root canal technology, set up academic collaborations with key opinion leaders in the dental research field, and performed pre-clinical safety and efficacy testing for three 510(k) FDA submissions. I also published scientific articles in various peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Endodontics and Clinical Oral Investigations.
As a graduate student, I worked under Diane Hoffman-Kim in a tissue engineering and biomaterials lab in the department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology and the Center for Biomedical Engineering. There, I developed a 3D in-vitro model to study peripheral nerve injury and regeneration using 3D dorsal root ganglion microtissues and micropatterned protein substrates. I also worked as an intern at the Technology Ventures Office at Brown University and prepared marketing and competitive analysis reports to assess the commercialization potential of new ideas and inventions created at Brown.
2. How did your experience at Brown help you find your first position after graduation?
I took the course "Topics in translational research and technologies" with Dr. Tripathi and Dr. Suner and they had many guest lecturers in different biomedical related disciplines. I would go up to every guest lecturer after class and ask them questions on how they chose their respective career paths and about their work. After speaking with a Partner at a biotech law firm in a different course and working at the Tech Ventures Office at Brown, I realized I wanted to pursue a career in Patent Law. I spoke to a specific Partner that lectured in Dr. Tripathi and Dr. Suner's course who forwarded my resume to a Patent Law Firm that only specialized in Medical Devices/Biotechnologies in California. Next thing you know, I had a FaceTime interview and landed a Technical Advisor position at a Patent Law firm in California!
My experience at Brown helped me find my first position after graduating because of all the networking opportunities that were presented to the students, whether it was in a indirectly in a course or the hosted events outside of my classes. I definitely took advantage each and every one of these opportunities, which are often missed by students because they only focus on courses and research.
3. What experiences and/or personal qualities would you look for if you were in the position to hire new graduates from Brown?
Someone that is motivated, hard-working, driven, personable, and that can work both in a group AND independently.
4. What is your current position? On a typical day (or week) in your position, what do you do? What are the toughest challenges you face? What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I am a Technical Advisor at Bozicevic, Field, and Francis LLP in Silicon Valley, which is a Biotech/Medical Device "Boutique" Patent Law Firm. I focus on Patent Prosecution work in a variety of disciplines within the life-science industry, from the academic level all the way to big corporations. "Patent Prosecution" work involves preparing patent applications, legal and argumentative writing during the Examination phase following the patent laws, which involves many hours of reading and understanding cited references (i.e. academic papers, published patent applications and patents) that the Examiner may cite as the closest prior art, and finding differences in the prior art and the case you are working on, patentability assessments, Freedom to Operate analysis, etc. The toughest challenges are 1) having many bosses and being able to cater to each boss's work style, and 2) having to juggle multiple projects at a time which may or may not be related. The most rewarding part of my job is being able to learn about so many different technologies in fields that I may not have had an opportunity to learn about in depth in school. A part of our job is to be able to quickly understand many different inventions within the entire biomedical field, so just because I may have studied a specific research area within the biomedical field, does not mean that I will only focus on technologies in that research area. There is never a dull moment because you are constantly learning and working on so many different and life-changing technologies. A great part of my job is knowing that I am helping an inventor try to get a patent on an innovative technology that is geared towards helping people, which can help them in the long run in starting a company, getting research funds from investors, licensing agreements, etc. - all to try to make their invention come to life on a larger scale for the same goal of curing or preventing diseases and increasing quality of life.
5. Are there any courses at Brown that you would recommend taking as preparation?
Cardiovascular Engineering, Tissue Engineering, Stem Cell engineering, Topics in Translational Research and Technologies, Molecular Targets of Drug Discovery
6. If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?
Go to even more networking events! The ones I went to were very fulfilling, but Brown offers so many and I wish I took advantage of all of them!
7. Why did you choose Brown?
I loved the campus, and I got a great vibe from all the faculty in the Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology and the Center for Biomedical Engineering departments. Every faculty member treated me like an equal, and always encouraged questions and was very much a open door policy. I loved that about Brown, and of course, their research was phenomenal and I really wanted to be part of that research oriented environment.
8. Why did you choose BME?
I love this fast-growing field. There are so many opportunities. There are so many industries you can go into and still use your degree because you learn the science and the engineering principles in school and in most BME programs, research gives you the hands on experience as well!