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Brian P. Head, MS, PhD

Brian P. Head, MS, PhD

Interviews by: Anjana Chandrasekhar 
Editing: Alexandra Bortnick

1. Could you please list your previous department at UC San Diego and provide a brief description of the research you conducted?

I earned my PhD in Dr. Paul Insel's lab in the Department of Pharmacology. My degree is in Molecular Pathology, and I studied how signal transduction is organized in membrane/lipid rafts in adult cardiac myocytes.

2. Could you describe your current job profile?

I am currently a Research Scientist at the VA and an Assistant Professor at UCSD in the Dept. of Anesthesiology.

3. What made you decide to transition into your current position?

I had the opportunity to study the brain, of which I knew very little about. Most of my previous research was predominantly the heart, so I thought it would be a good idea to study a new system.

4. Apart from the research you conducted, do you feel like anything in particular has helped you to acquire your current position?

I believe working with a supportive group that can carry you through the 'drought' times of funding is critical.

5. Could you list some of the most striking similarities and differences between your post-doc and current position?

Much of the cell biology and biochemical techniques are similar. The huge difference is that the VA has taught me the importance of clinical and translational applications of research. It is critical to try to apply what is done in a culture dish to real life pathologies.

6. Could you describe your goals and ambitions for the next 5 years?

Biggest challenge is procuring grant money. The more you write and submit the better chance you will have. One big key is to focus a grant around what the funding agency feels is important right now. My goal is to be an associate professor and to take my gene therapy technology into clinical trials within the next 2-3 years.

7. What do you feel you could have done more, as a Postdoc, to help prepare you for or acquire your current position?

I really don't think I could have done more. I believe that things always change and you have to adapt to it, especially in science. One must be flexible and most importantly should always want to be learning more and more. It shouldn't be a job, but more of a passion. Biology is a fascinating thing and to be able to study life is an extraordinary and fortunate occupation to have.

8. What do you feel is the most important advice you can give to a current UCSD Postdoc in order for them to obtain a position such as yours?

Funding, funding, funding. Money is the key to independence in science. If you have grant money, they will make room for you.