Xavier Magazine

Profile: Donald W. Lawrence

Donald W. Lawrence Bachelor of Science in Biology, 1991 | Research associate, department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, Washington University, St. Louis

Career Benefits | As a research scientist, Lawrence enjoys an evolving array of projects, lots of travel and a great degree of freedom to decide the projects he wants to pursue. His current project deals with biomechanical stress on cellular protein expression in blood vessels—work that’s helping provide a better understanding of atherosclerosis and cell death.

Life Benefits | “The possibility that my research will help understand or even cure a disease makes my choice of career that much more exciting and enjoyable,” he says.

Family Benefits | While in the doctoral program in the pathology department at the University of North Carolina, he met his wife, Simone Cummings, who was working on a doctorate in health care administration. The couple married in 1998. They moved to Boston when Lawrence accepted a post-doctoral position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. The couple moved to St. Louis in 2002 and he began a fellowship at Washington University.

Published Results | In October 2003, Lawrence and six of his colleagues published an article in The Journal of Experimental Medicine detailing their research into the migration of white blood cells through the cell layer lining the intestine. “This is important because white blood cells that remained stuck to the gut surface may be capable of causing intestinal damage through mechanisms they would normally use to fight bacterial infections,” he says.

Goal-to-Go | Having achieved his initial career goals, Lawrence has another dream on his radar screen. “I’m trying to reach one goal that I’ve had from the very beginning of my career; one that I’ve had since high school, and that is to have my own research lab in an academic setting,” he says.

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