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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

I usually don’t write about my private life very much because it’s private - and my life. But mostly I don’t write about it because it’s just not that interesting. However, this Monday I am going to do something I haven’t done since April 9, 2010. At approximately 6:30 AM, then again at 6:37 AM, then maybe one more time at 6:44 AM, my alarm is going to go off and I’m going to get ready for work.

You see, the dirty little secret is I don’t do this for a living. I’ve had the opportunity but I always respectfully declined for two reasons. The first is my fear that if my hobby became my vocation, I would end up disliking them both. The second and more relevant reason is as passionate as I am about fantasy baseball, I am even more passionate about science and feel I have some unfinished business and am not ready to give up on it just yet.

In an effort to get by the past several months, I have been fortunate enough to pick up some freelance work with ESPN. As it turns out, I was wrong about my fears as I love the work I’m doing for them. Well, I was technically half-wrong as the management of my own teams has become a bit of a drag but that may be as much of a function of over-extending what is already a healthy bunch of leagues. But drafting is just so much fun, and when I said “yes”, I had no idea ESPN would be keeping me as busy as they have. Though I suspect this would be the case regardless, but this is a story for another day as I have had an epitome or two about managing so many teams.

With respect to science, I fell in love with the discipline during high school my senior year. You’ll find this shocking, but the odds and probabilities involved with genetics was the hook. Up until that point, my plans were to pursue a career in engineering since I was strongest in math and physics while chemistry and biology were more courses I had to take. But trying to figure out what a rooster would look like changed my life. I decided combining math and science was the way to go and changed the plan to biomedical engineering.

Then during my freshman year in college, I decided to drop the engineering part and pursue pure science as I was smitten by the problem solving nature of the discipline. The ability to “see” things that the human eye cannot see fascinated me. I loved the idea of designing an experiment, gathering then analyzing data and drawing conclusions.

A few years later, I graduated with BS degrees (insert your own joke here) in Biology and Biochemistry and a few years after that, an MS in Chemistry.  I then embarked on a career that encompassed varying scientific disciples, including organic chemistry, analytical chemistry and peptide chemistry. My personality lent itself to working in smaller, more entrepreneurial companies. This is very rewarding but comes with a caveat – small entrepreneurial Biotech companies have an inherent risk, one which I was reminded first-hand three times. Small entrepreneurial Biotechs tend to become former small entrepreneurial Biotechs, especially the past several years.

As long-time readers of this space know, there were other extenuating circumstances, but still, being unable to find work for 27 months was a bit much. I’ll admit there were times I thought I’d donned a lab coat and goggles for the last time. Well, other than Halloween when I played the Mad Scientist. But mostly fueled from having lost my Mom to breast cancer and my Dad to Alzheimer’s, I sorely wanted to continue my science career. I’m not naïve. I’m not going to cure cancer or solve Alzheimer’s, but maybe I can help just a little. And thankfully, I’ll once again have that chance.

If only there was a way where I could marry my love for baseball with the intrigue of odds and probabilities combined with analyzing data and drawing conclusions in a small, entrepreneurial environment. Hmm.


0 #3 Todd Zola 2012-07-14 04:02
Thanks guys -- we're going with a stable company this time, Biogen-Idec, doing manufacturing.
0 #2 John Verdello 2012-07-13 18:32
Congrats, Todd ... I can empathize. Good luck with it.
0 #1 Ryan Carey 2012-07-13 16:09
Congrats on getting back in the lab Todd. As you are aware, my wife and I run a small Biotech firm helping researches such as yourselves "outsource" aspects of their research. Being middle-men in the industry for the past few years, we have seen many of our customers encounter the funding issues in the last few years, and we are well aware of the challenges that small firms face in the current environment. Best of luck in your new venture, who knows maybe we'll be able to work together on something other than "mock drafts" and "rankings" in the future.

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