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A Conversation with 2004 BSP Elizabeth O’Day, PhD

Then: 2004 Beckman Scholars Program Award Recipient, Boston College
Now: CEO and Founder, Olaris, Inc.

AMBF: Prior to college, were you curious about a career in science?
EOD: Being a scientist, and specifically working to cure cancer is the only job I have ever wanted to do. My brother had cancer when we were kids (he's fine) but it instilled in me a desire to dedicate my life to developing new ways to combat this disease.

AMBF: What exposure did you have to knowing what research in a laboratory would be like?
EOD: As a kid, I used to read scientific journals and articles not fully understanding what any of it actually meant. It wasn't until I got to college that I got grounded in what research really is and how science is conducted.

AMBF: When you heard about the Beckman Scholar opportunity, what inspired you to apply?
EOD: My undergraduate research advisor, Dr. Evan Kantrowitz (Dr. K), saw how much passion I had for science and the dedication to my work-- he encouraged me to apply.

AMBF: What was your research focused on? What were the results?
EOD: As an undergrad, I worked on a project "the design and synthesis of aspartate transcarbamoylase inhibitor compounds", which involved synthesizing novel compounds that could be used to treat cancer. From undergraduate research to now my work has in one way or another being focused on combating cancer.

AMBF: What was the most memorable part about working with your mentor or working in the laboratory?
EOD: I loved working in Dr. K's lab. Dr. K encouraged my curiosity and supplemented it with rigorous scientific training. He helped lay the foundation to set me off on a career as a scientist. I am forever grateful for Dr. K's mentorship and support.

AMBF: Where did you go after graduation?
EOD: MPhil in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge as part of Churchill Fellowship

PhD in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard as part of National Science Foundation Fellowship

Olaris* - I started a company based off my PhD work.

AMBF: Did you continue doing scientific research?
EOD: Yes!

AMBF: What effect did the Beckman Scholar experience have on your career?
EOD: The Beckman Scholar experience allowed me to dedicate myself more fully to my research. It was the first time I realized science was not only something I liked, but something I could turn into my career.

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Elizabeth O'Day W-1080

*Olaris, Inc. is a precision medicine company that uses metabolomics and machine learning to develop patient stratification tools. We are fortunate to live in an era where we have access to some amazing therapies. Unfortunately, we don't know who will benefit from which one, so medicine is still largely trial and error. Olaris is on a mission to change that. Our patent-pending technology combines NMR spectroscopy, mass spec, statistics, machine learning and a deep understanding of biology to produce "biomarkers of response" (BoR) which let us determine which specific drugs will benefit which specific patients. To date our BoRs have demonstrated success across multiple areas including metastatic breast cancer, immune response, and Parkinson's Disease. Join our team! We are hiring for lab scientists, data scientists and more. Visit our website to learn more or email a copy of your resume to [email protected]