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Joseph Cozzitorto, is a Research Associate at the Jefferson Center for Pancreatic, Biliary and Related Cancers.

How did you come to work at Jefferson?

My wife, Ellen, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and our physician in Princeton recommended that we come to Jefferson for her surgery. I had worked for 25 years in the field of molecular biology, so during one of our visits, I inquired whether the department was doing any research. Dr. Yeo thought my experience was a good fit for Dr. Jonathan Brody, who was about to establish a new lab dedicated to pancreatic cancer. That was in 2006, and I’ve been commuting from my home in South Brunswick, NJ, ever since.

What did your prior experience involve?

I did Plant Molecular Biology, while working for EniChem America, an Italian startup company and American Cyanamid Corporation, which specializes in agricultural chemistry. At American Cyanamid I isolated genes of agronomic interest and generated mutations that would allow plants to survive in the presence of herbicide. I had also done biomedical and basic research in academia and for other companies in molecular biology. The way I look at it is that every other job I’ve had was a preparation for the work I do now.

What do you do in Dr. Brody’s lab?

I do cloning work, which involves isolating certain genes from cultures of mammalian cells or clinical samples of patient tumors and inserting them into plasmids so that they can be used in experiments. We also investigate drug activity in cultured cells that have been transfected with these genes. I have co-authored several articles on our findings. I also manage the lab, which includes two residents, a PhD investigator, a research assistant, and volunteers. As the lab’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Brody always has creative ideas for experiments that keep the projects moving forward. It’s a very team oriented environment.