Interview with an Alum

Students conduct an informational interview with a Marymount Alum in a field or industry of the student’s choice and write a 3-4-page synopsis of the interview.

The synopsis should include information on the person interviewed (name, title, company, how you found them), a main topic or statement indicating why you chose to interview this individual, and reflection on the topics discussed and knowledge gained from the interview. Do not include a word-for-word transcript of the interview.

Date of interview: February 16, 2016

Name: Tm Jones

Position: Clinical Research Assistant

Institute: Emerson Clinical Research Institute LLC

Website of the Institute:

Contact email:

As it was suggested in the assignment details, I browsed LinkedIn and searched for Marymount University alumni. There were many Marymount alumni from different professions. But I was looking for an alum who is was involved at some research institute. I found Tim Nahra and sent him a message at LinkedIn. Tim Jones was kind enough to read the interview details in the message and agreed for a skype interview on 16th of February.

I have always been passionate about the research in the medical sciences as I believe that this type of research is contributing to bringing quality to our physical and psychological health. Though I was looking for an interview candidate who is involved in any type of research after his/her studies at Marymount, I was lucky enough to land at a LinkedIn profile who was actively involved with research in the field of medical science.

There were a variety of topics discussed during a 45 minutes long interview. We discusses Tim’s time at Marymount University, his passion for the field of medical research, his future plans the actual research he is doing at the institute he is currently in. In the following discussion I would like to provide a detailed account of the interview. In the later part of the paper I would shed some light on what I have learned from this interview and how can it help me in my profession and personal life.

Tim started to work at the Emerson Clinical Research Institute as intern in 2015 which was his graduation year at Marymount. After he had graduated with biology major and gained a year experience as an intern at the research institute, he was offered a place as a clinical research assistant (CRA) which he gladly accepted as this is the career he saw to pursue for the coming years. In reply to my question about what exactly the cycle of the medical research involves he replied that it is complex process governed by many legal and ethical principles. He said that the research institute serves to conduct research studies in the impoverished area with minorities (Africa Americans and Latinos). The subject volunteers get paid to get the treatment and the goal of the study is to check on the blood and body reaction as a result of the pill or new medication produced after extensive research. So the cycle starts with pharmaceutical companies and sponsors that provide the funds and expectations to the clinic, we run the ads and get the people sign consents. Before they sign any consent, they are informed in detail about the type of medication that will get for the trial and their rights to leave the study at any appropriate time.  Then we conduct the study and we get monitored by other professional research companies periodically. Then we submit the results to the sponsor who analyze and determine the safety level and acceptance of the drug to be used for public. Tim Said that he likes this job because it is research based and it is not a routine. Some studies are concerning flu medications for kids and some studies are about the Alzheimer in elderly people. So, we get to conduct different studies with various ages and genders too, based on the study requirements.

I was amazed to know about the whole process that a medication needs to be confirmed to be safe before it can hit the market. Before that I was of the opinion that the medication that we can buy at the market or is prescribed by doctors must have a simple process of getting approved. I didn’t know of the human trials.

As this was not a structured interview, I had to ask questions as soon as I was getting exposed to different processes in the medical research field. I enquired about the risks that are there in the trial of drugs. Tim said that of course there are risks involved. Sometimes the drugs might have adverse effects on the people who participate in the research study. The research institute has many contingency plans in place some of which are general and others are specific to specific medical trials. I asked what happens if someone gets hurt during the trial due to the adverse effects of the medication? Tim said that the research institute has legal experts who look into the matter and there is a perfect compensation mechanism in place to help the victims of unfortunate events.

Tim has many future plans. He sees himself at a top position in a medical research institute. He wants to pursue his study and get an opportunity to do a PHD in the coming few years. He takes full interest in the research activities which provide him an opportunity to learn more about his field and become competent at what he is doing. The research activities also add up to his experience and become a useful part of his resume. He is sure that his present experience would provide him with a PHD topic to work on in the future.

Tim said that he still remembers his time at Marymount University. He said that he took interest in his studies and assignments. He was also very much involved in different extra curriculum activities back then. He advised me to attend all seminars and workshops conducted at the university. He himself found the opportunity to work as an intern at Emerson Clinical Research Institute at a seminar, where he meat a person who then helped him get the internship.

On a lighter note, I asked about his activities when he is not at his job. He said that he likes to read book and research articles related to medical science. He said that to be in the medical research field, you have to be up to date. That is why he spends the majority of his free time browsing internet for research articles and looking for books related to the same field. He also watches science fiction movies and Discovery and National Geographic HD channels. He loves to cook food. He like Indian food and has many cook books to help him cook for himself.

I would like to conclude my discussion by expressing my own opinion about what I learned from the interview and how can it be useful for me in my future life, most probably professional life. As I have mentioned earlier that there is a very complex process involved behind a drug finally reaching us in the market. I have gained much information about the different processes involved in the field of medical research. Though I am not planning to get into a profession in the medical research, I have got a general idea of how tough research can be and the level of commitment it demands from the researcher. Tim is a great person and he want to enjoy free time but he is bound by the demanding nature of the research work. He has to spend most of time preparing for the research activities by studying tirelessly. The other important point that grasped from the interview is the importance of seminars and workshops at the university. I believe that Tim is right in saying that these seminars and workshops have much worthiness as they are full of information. They might act as a gateway towards a great career for me.  I thank Tim for pointing that out.