Luminary Ben Boyd, PhD
BEN BOYD, PHD
1. What sparked your interest in science in general and drug delivery in particular?
I was always interested in self assembly and order in materials – my PhD was in surfactant self-assembly, and my first position outside of university after undergraduate was in the mining industry formulating ‘energetic materials’ which actually required a lot of understanding of surfactants and emulsions. So the transition into pharmaceutical formulation was not as difficult as might be expected – I had no idea what drug delivery even was until I was recruited for a postdoc in the lipid formulation area because of my colloid science background! I spent a few years in industry in formulation, but knew that an academic position was for me, and went for it with a deliberate strategy to position at the intersection of fundamental colloid science and drug delivery.
2. Share a turning point or defining moment you experienced in your work as a scientist.
I think there can be so many turning points in your career, but a defining moment for my science was actually the opening of a synchrotron facility in my home town of Melbourne in 2009, which really provided a means of expanding into new areas and trying new ideas that others did not have easy access to, so we could ‘lead the pack’ in this sense and a large part of my groups research is still focussed on synchrotron based techniques.
3. Tell us about the exciting ways in which your particular field is progressing.
A major new area of research that is attracting a lot of attention is actually taking an idea that has been around for a while in looking at milk as a drug delivery system, but with fresh approaches in understanding the role that digestion can play in the interaction of lipids in milk with poorly soluble drugs to boost bioavailability. There are obvious benefits from a paediatric medicine perspective, but I really believe that it is an amazing material, rich in self-assembly and versatility that has a future role to play in both developed world medicines and delivery of medicines in resource poor populations.
4. What is the best piece of professional advice you have received and from whom?
My PhD supervisor, Prof. Calum Drummond, gave me the piece of advice ‘be good but be humble’ – I think having an understated approach is not always a bad thing, you can be recognised for your achievements somewhat independently of how you might promote them or yourself.
5. Would you change anything about your career path if you could start over?
Not a thing! (well maybe a couple of things) – I love working with students to help them to achieve new scientific outcomes, highlighting the good in what they often perceive as a desert of failure (perhaps not so dramatically) – I love meeting my collaborators and friends at great meetings like CRS Annual Meeting of course. The only thing I might consider changing is spending more time in overseas labs as a junior academic.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is starting their scientific career?
Go where the ball is going to be, not where it is now.
7. What do you enjoy doing outside of the lab? What are your hobbies/interests?
Without wishing to offend anyone – my students say I go to ‘church’ every Saturday (golf), at least when we are not at the synchrotron doing experiments like right now writing these responses!