Matthew Drake, MD, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Medicine
Preferred contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Briefly describe your training and research background.
I went to college in Boston. While in undergraduate, I worked with a group at MGH that had recently cloned the PTH receptor, and that is largely what got me interested in bone biology. From there I went on to an MD/Ph.D program at Washington University in St. Louis, where I both went to medical school and also performed my Ph.D training in cellular and molecular biology. After finishing in St. Louis, I went to Duke University for both my medical internship and residency training, and also performed part of my clinical endocrine fellowship training and postdoctoral work. Because of my interest in bone, I ultimately decided to finish my fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic working with Dr. Sundeep Khosla. His interests coincided with my own due to his research program that included studies which ranged from basic and translational to clinical medicine.
Why did you decide to become a clinician investigator?
My real interest was in improving human care. In order to do so, I thought it was important to get medical training which would allow me to really understand human biology. But in order to understand cellular, molecular, and basic aspects of human biology and to ultimately make important contributions, I felt that it would be important to obtain formal Ph.D training. My ultimate goal was then to merge those two areas.
What does a typical day look like in your job?
No day looks like any other day, meaning that no two days are really the same. Some days are largely devoted to work in the lab, writing, or meetings and discussions, while other days are almost completely clinical. Many days have a component of both clinical and research activities, and there is often some component of teaching and/or mentoring. In addition to those things which are formally part of my work, I also review quite a few manuscripts and grants, serve on several editorial boards, and perform some administrative functions (both clinical and research) at Mayo.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
It is really gratifying when some work that I have done directly impacts the patients I see. For example, some of my work focuses on bone disease in patients with a common pre-malignant hematologic disorder called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Patients come from across the US for evaluation of their skeletal health in the setting of MGUS. I also routinely get calls and referrals with similar questions due to my work in this area, all of which will hopefully lead to better skeletal outcomes for these patients.
What is the most challenging aspect?
[The most challenging aspect is] the sheer number of commitments that detract from the time I devote to research. Also, it can also be challenging trying to carve out time to spend with my family in order to keep life from becoming too one-dimensional.
How do you manage research with clinical responsibilities??
I do best when I am able to really compartmentalize my responsibilities. When doing clinical work, I try to only do that and to finish it rather than to hop back and forth between clinical and research work. Switching from one to the other can be very difficult as different skill sets are usually required, but I sometimes have to make that switch a few times a day depending on what is needed on any given day.
What do you know now that you wish you knew as an early-stage investigator?
I think it is becoming increasingly important to do work that is likely to be recognized as having value by study sections. While clinical and translational work can have significant value for the American populace, I think it is now broadly recognized within the bone field that it is becoming progressively more difficult to do human clinical investigative and translational studies. Study sections want investigators to identify a mechanism and work from there. Ultimately this has, and will likely continue to, lead to fewer clinician investigators within ASBMR and within the bone field in general. Probably the most significant breakthrough in bone over the past twenty years was the discovery of SOST, a finding which was the direct result of studies of human patients with a rare skeletal disorder. Advocating for research which is not purely basic or clinical will be important going forward if we are ultimately going to improve human skeletal outcomes