Our Story

We know first-hand the challenges that PhDs face in differentiating themselves during their PhD, going through ups and downs in their postdoc, and facing the daunting task of learning about non-academic careers and finding the right one.

PhD Source was created and the team was formed to give back to the scientific community all the knowledge that we have garnered from our experiences. With a network of talented scientists who are pushing the leading edge and becoming leaders in the scientific community, we hope to give you the most important knowledge to empower you at the different points of your career.

Thomas R. Coughlin, PhD

I am a medical writer in the greater New York area and have 8 years of experience in academics and industry. My undergraduate degree is in biomedical engineering and PhD is in bioengineering. I completed my PhD at the University of Notre Dame in the Orthopedic Research Lab investigating the role of bone marrow cells in sensing mechanical stimuli and their overall role in bone health. Always knowing that I enjoyed mentoring and initiating projects, I wanted to stay the path and become a professor. I received a NIH fellowship to study at NYU in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and worked on animal models of osteoarthritis. During these 2 years at NYU, I was exposed to careers outside of academics. With a robust postdoctoral program, led by Keith Micoli, I took courses in pharmaceutical drug development, biomedical entrepreneurship, and many in the business of science. In these 2 years I also had unique experiences of lobbying to the New York and Mississippi Senatorial offices to increase the NIH budget, and also touring the NIH facility in Bethesda, MD. In April of 2017, I was able to march in the March for Science with NYU.

After my postdoc ended I decided to transition my experiences to industry. I received at part time position to work at the NYU Fund and Leslie E-Labs to be a consultant on reports investigating the market and technical viability of 2 projects within NYU that were looking for funding from the NYU Fund. Similarly, in this time I was able to listen to Venture Capital feedback and watch entrepreneurial pitches, learning the ins and outs of what Venture Capital investors look for in start-ups.

Most recently, I have worked as a medical writer in oncology and gastroenterology in New York City. At present, it is one of the fastest times for oncology in America, and being in client-facing medical communications has fortified a wealth of experience, given the high speed of the industry.

Laura Zheng, PhD

I conducted my PhD at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. During my PhD, I developed and implemented a research proposal to

study arsenic and chronic kidney disease (CKD) in American Indians in the Strong Heart Study. In addition, we determined that arsenic exposure may be associated with kidney disease outcomes such as albuminuria and reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate in American Indians in the Strong Heart Study. In another study, we determined that urine cadmium exposure is not associated with kidney disease outcomes in children in the Chronic Kidney Disease in Children (CKiD) study. This work was done in collaboration with the Department of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. We identified a marker in the blood of critically ill hospital patients that can predict mortality. This research was performed in collaboration with the Department of Anesthesiology in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Further, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing scientific literature regarding arsenic and CKD outcomes. From this work, I published two first author papers and presented research findings at two international conferences and four internal presentations.

After my PhD, I decided to pursue a postdoc at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. During the 2 and a half years, I worked on a project I was passionate about, identifying levels of community violence for women and children living in Mexico City participating in the Programming Research in Obesity, Growth Environment and Social Stress (PROGRESS) Study. I also determined how maternal exposure to violence can lead to impaired child development among mothers and children from Mexico City. I conducted a systematic review of scientific literature regarding various environmental exposures and pediatric kidney disease outcomes.

Toward the tail end of my postdoc, I decided to investigate alternative careers outside of academics. I came across medical communications as I enjoyed the work in the area of converting data from clinical trials into usable communications for healthcare professionals and other audiences.

After working as a medical writer, I moved in a more data heavy direction and transitioned to data science and am very excited about where this career will take me.

I am passionate about giving PhDs all the information to get them from point A to point B of where they’d like to be. I’m excited to help you in your career!