Alumni News: Ray Zhong, PhD

From the Neuroscience lab to management consulting, Zhong wants to bridge the world of research and patient care

By Nadine Taylor-Barnes

June 19, 2019

As a member of Dr. Lu Chen’s lab in the Department of Neurosurgery, Ray Zhong PhD, postdoc 2019, studied the chemical signaling underlying synaptic plasticity and its links to neuropsychiatric disorders, specifically autism spectrum disorders.

“There is limited knowledge about the science of autism and all of its different phenotypes,” he said. “My research was a first step in a long process to look for treatments. In order for pharmaceutical companies to create the drugs that treat disorders, we first need to identify the ‘targets’ — molecules and/or signaling pathways — for which the drugs can then be designed and developed.”

Ray began to learn more about the drug discovery and development process from lab peers who worked in the private sector. Bringing research forward into clinical settings piqued his interest, and he began working closely with BioSci Careers to explore different careers and internships. Today, Ray is pursuing a career in management consulting and is currently working to rescue a major clinical trial for a pharmaceutical firm.

“Consulting is a great way to transition from an academic-focused lab to an industry position. I am applying my scientific knowledge to a business setting.”

Ray also has advice for trainees, from different cultural backgrounds, like himself, who plan to enter the private sector. “Consulting requires a number of business skills — good communicationskills, client-facing skills, teamwork skills — that are not traditional strengths for some. But if you go with your heart, stay focused, and learn thoughtfully. You will make it. I immigrated to the U.S. in 2007, and never could have imagined the exciting work I’d be doing now.”