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Environmental Factor, December 2012

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Postdoc Brant Hamel moves into clinical research at Duke

By Nisha Cavanaugh

Brant Hamel, Ph.D.

At the same time he was building the network that helped him land his new job, Hamel used his expertise at the bench and his writing skills to submit an abstract earlier this year that won him a Fellows’ Award for Research Excellence (see story).

NIEHS postdoctoral fellow, Brant Hamel, Ph.D., transitioned from the bench to clinical research as a regulatory coordinator for gastrointestinal oncology clinical trials at the Duke Cancer Institute.

Hamel’s new position, which began Nov. 1, will focus on the policies and practices involved in clinical trials. He will prepare submissions and amendments to the Institutional Review Board and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, write informed consent forms, and track projects to ensure all documentation is current and complete. Hamel describes the work as being responsible for ensuring that all regulatory and ethical requirements are met, in order to ensure the safety of patients enrolling in clinical trials.

As an Intramural Research and Training Award fellow in the Molecular Endocrinology Group headed by John Cidlowski, Ph.D., Hamel examined the role of the N-terminus of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in affecting the nucleocytoplasmic localization of the receptor. He discovered a novel motif that, when mutated, results in constitutive nuclear localization of GR in the absence of hormone.

Key to success: getting involved

Hamel credits his success in acquiring a job to a few important experiences at NIEHS. He served on the 15th Annual NIEHS/EPA Biomedical Career Fair committee earlier this year (see story) and was responsible for organizing and leading a panel on careers in regulatory affairs. He used this opportunity to network with experts in the field.

Hamel was also a frequent writer for the Environmental Factor, composing noteworthy stories and research summaries. He found his experience covering community-engaged research at the South Atlantic National Research Conference (see story) particularly relevant for his new position. Editor Eddy Ball, Ph.D., said of Hamel’s experience as a guest writer, “Brant understood that writing for the newsletter could also be a way of networking. He let me know about his interests in clinical research, so I could offer him assignments that would be relevant to his job search, helping him learn more about clinical research, and meet people in the field.”

Joining local or national societies to build your network

On his own time, Hamel pursued other mechanisms of training, including completion of a class through the North Carolina Regulatory Affairs Forum (NCRAF) and a short internship in the regulatory affairs department at the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.

NCRAF is an association of regulatory affairs professionals in the Research Triangle, N.C., area. “If you are interested in regulatory positions, one of the best things you can do is get involved with a local group like NCRAF,” advises Hamel. NCRAF gave him the opportunity to make connections, as well as learn how people got their jobs, and it was through these connections that he initially heard about the job opening.

(Nisha Cavanaugh, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the NIEHS DNA Repair and Nucleic Enzymology Group.)

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