Bill Healey, vice president of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, answered Brian's e-mail and arranged for him to visit Aventis Pharmaceuticals in Bridgewater. Brian will never forget the day in the summer of 2003 that he spent with three different scientists.
"I decided to help out one senior chemist in a lab. I did filtration in a spectrometry lab, and then I got an introduction to organic chemistry with a medicinal chemist. We did nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and worked on proteins," explains Brian. "We went into a NMR lab and worked with the equipment. Then I talked with a biochemist about diseases like AIDS and how they can be treated and cured. It was really intense."
Brian also later spent two-and-a-half days shadowing the hospital pharmacy clerk at Hunterdon Medical Center. "I learned you have to be very exact with the dosage you give to patients," he says.
Before this introduction to research, Brian had only a vague understanding of science and pharmaceuticals, with no real idea of the jobs available in the field. Now Brian has a better idea what's out there. "It's interesting how they do R&D in certain diseases and try to find cures for diseases that have no cure yet, like Alzheimer's and HIV," he says.
Brian, who graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School in June 2004, is a freshman at Shenandoah University in Virginia, where he plans to earn a degree in pharmacy. He wants to work in a hospital pharmacy or do R&D at a pharmaceutical company.