Tim Toby is a current senior student in the investigative and medical sciences (IMS) program at Doisy College of Health Sciences. In addition to IMS, Toby is also minoring in biology and public health while also receiving a certificate in interprofessional education.
Here at SLU, Toby is heavily involved with research and service. He has already penned two research publications and has one more currently in the review process. Toby has been active in the SLU service community and has participated in mission trips to Haiti and Mexico. These trips along with his research have given Tim a deeper understanding of public health on a global scale. You might think that three publications, two minors, multiple mission trips and a rigorous program of study would slow Tim down after graduation, but he is presently applying to graduate schools. So, what's next for Tim?
Learn more about Tim, his unique experiences at Doisy College of Health Sciences and what his path will be post Doisy.
What do you like most about CLS?
The CLS department offers a variety of specialized classes that are in line with my interests. No other major department could give me the chance to explore possible future research areas, including hematology, immunology, and microbiology, to a level of detail consistent with medical school classes. I think it is especially important in this age of interdisciplinary healthcare for healthcare students to be exposed to a wide variety of bodies of knowledge. I was first attracted to CLS/IMS for the courses, and I stuck with it because of the professors-they are all top-rate.
How did you know this program was right for you? How did you heard about the CLS program at SLU?
My academic history is pretty convoluted. I actually started out as a Biomedical Engineering major, and then explored other traditional pre-med options when I realized that math and I have irreconcilable differences. My best friend has been an IMS major from day one, and she convinced me to try it out.
I was planning on going to medical school at the time, so the IMS degree made sense, and I soon discovered that it is the best possible track for me to explore my love of laboratory research, especially in the healthcare sphere. Also, the department faculty proved to be especially resilient to my constant academic twists and turns, and has always been there to guide me when I want to explore different disciplines and stray from the normal degree tracks. This program has proved extremely flexible, and the faculty even more so.
What would you like to do after graduation?
I am stalling my original plans of going straight into medical school to pursue a relatively recent love affair with the field of public health. After engaging in medical mission work in Haiti, I realized how important the disciplines of public health are in solving international and domestic healthcare problems. Since these are the kind of problems I want to tackle-larger-scale, systems and population-based problems-I decided to pursue the corresponding minor. Fortunately, this minor has fit in very well with my IMS courses, and given me a new perspective on medicine and my future career path.
Long story short, I'm applying to MPH (Master's in public health) programs on the east coast right now, and then I am going to start thinking about medical school again. In the long run, I see myself as an investigator in the field of emerging infectious disease research at a international public health agency.
You are involved with the mission trips to Haiti, why do you go and what have you learned? Do you do anything else like this?
I went to Haiti because I was sick of experiencing healthcare through an extremely narrow perspective-that of the western physician. Health is one of the few common denominators among every person on the planet, and I was starting to realize that I could not be a complete physician without experiencing healthcare across different cultures. For, physicians need to be able to work with and understand patients from many different backgrounds. When I accompanied my hematology professor, Dr. Tim Randolph to Haiti for a few weeks to work with clinical laboratories, I experienced this firsthand. The trip also took on a very personal nature as I began to connect with the country and the amazing people I was meeting every day. In the end, I learned that vastly different cultures can be united in the pursuit of good health and the dignity it restores.
After Haiti, I realized that I needed to keep learning about public health and soon adopted the minor. I published an article in OneWorld, a social justice publication at SLU, to spread awareness of the earthquake in Haiti, and have tried to stay up to date on what's going on down there. Last summer, the travel bug bit me again and I headed off to Mexico with a small team from the SLU school of public health, and participated in an immersion experience in Puebla.
Do you feel that SLU has a lot of activities for students?
Oh yes. I feel that whatever you want to do, the students of SLU have figured out some way to start a club or other activity.
Each student at Doisy College is assigned a faculty mentor, do you like having a faculty mentor?
Having a faculty mentor has been an extremely valuable experience. Being able to go Rita Heuertz, my faculty mentor, with all of my many academic and career-related questions has saved me a lot of time and energy looking for answers elsewhere. She has also proved to be a master at keeping me on track to graduate, with all of the minors and certificates I've accumulated over the years. It really helps that the faculty in my department has such a broad range of career and research experience-there is always somebody in the office that can give me the advice I need.
You mention research, have participated in research while here at SLU?
Yes, during my freshman and sophomore year, I worked in the chemistry department, in one of the larger labs. My focus was biofuels and environmental chemistry. I started on bench research and ended up working there two summers. I was able to publish two publications.
Last summer, I was fortunate to work at the FDA in St. Louis with the Department of Pharmaceuticals as a research fellow. I learned how drugs affect population and worked in the Heparin division. My focus was to run tests to ensure safety and the work I did is currently in the process of being published.
You have had a lot of experience with research, what have you learned the most from participating in research at SLU and research at the FDA?
Government has a completely different research style. I had to keep a lab notebook that could possibly be used in court at some point. It was a lot of responsibility and I enjoyed my time there.
Would you recommend Doisy College of Health Sciences to a prospective student?
Hands down, yes. It's funny...Doisy is like its own little family within the SLU community. Well, it's not so little anymore, but there is still a sense of a common purpose on the medical campus, where Doisy majors will end up for the majority of their time. I have friends in most Doisy programs, and have heard only good things about the professors and courses. The Doisy College really does what it is supposed to do-it prepares students to go right into a professional career in healthcare as soon as possible.
Now, why would you recommend your program to potential students?
I would recommend CLS and IMS to potential students for two reasons. First of all, the CLS department offers the kind of classes that most people have to wait for medical school to take. If you're a pre-medical student, why not get a leg up on the competition and learn all of this now? Also, your final year as a CLS consists of a professional clinical rotation that gives you professional, practical experience in the field.
Secondly, the faculty is truly second to none. I have taken so many courses in so many different departments, from theology to biology to fine arts, and no other collective faculty has proved to be so friendly, helpful, and experienced. The professors are excellent, and are one of the main reasons I have stuck with IMS.
Do you have any parting words for prospective students, since you are almost done? Any senior advice?
Oh wow...my little sister's doing the college search thing right now, so it seems like I've been giving a lot of advice lately. I applied to 14 schools across the country, and many different programs. Looking back on it, this strategy probably made things more confusing than they really needed to be. If you're a prospective student, really try to get a feel for the places you are applying, especially by visiting. I realized that SLU was right for me during visits and tours, and ruled out most other schools upon visiting. Programs look one way on websites and brochures, but are often not what they seem to be when you are actually on campus and exploring. Fortunately, this was not the case with SLU-the CLS department at Doisy College has exceeded my every expectation.
1. Communication piece in Journal of the American Chemical Society, Toby did supportive and background research for the project: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja101326b
Evaluation of the above paper by well known fuel cell chemist Germany:
2. Systematic review of metabolon literature in Chemcatchem, a Wiley Journal:
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