When biology major Marina Good ’19 started working in a biosafety cabinet during her summer internship with biotech company Adimab Lab in Lebanon, N.H., she became acutely aware of how she moved. Cell culture requires sterile conditions, so Good put on gloves, had her hands sprayed down with ethanol and donned a lab coat before getting to the task at hand. She felt like a giant trying to maneuver around her surroundings the first time, but now it feels natural.
“You use your hands differently,” Good explains. “I’ll pick things up with a couple fingers and hold it between other fingers to hold multiple things. Your dexterity increases.”
The way Good transferred cells in a pipette sounds a lot like the way a painter might carefully place color on a canvas. It’s a good reminder there’s an element of physicality in science. And there’s also an element of creativity.
In fact, Adimab has shown Good the creative potential of her discipline. The company uses yeast and mammalian cells to discover and produce antibodies that have the potential to cure practically any disease—from cancer to Alzheimer's. Adimab didn’t invent the field of therapeutic antibodies, but it did invent novel procedures and technologies that set it apart as a global leader in the industry.
“It’s a different mindset than working in research,” said Good. “It’s not just come to work and do your job. It’s come to work and be innovative. There’s more of a focus on discovery.”
Adimab has a library of more than 10 billion antibodies to drawn on for the discovery of candidates that pharmaceutical companies then license to produce new drug therapies. While Good did not directly work on projects for Adimab’s partners, she helped prepare the cells used for campaign production. Her responsibilities included preparing the growth medium, expanding and banking cell lines, aliquoting cells and performing quality control checks. She also reorganized Adimab’s liquid nitrogen tanks used to store cells and helped investigate a protocol for counting cells.
A lot of Good’s internship was spent gaining experience with procedures and equipment she had never used before, but Colby-Sawyer set the foundations of her success. Good learned what she calls “lab common sense” at Colby-Sawyer and, as a first year student, reached out to now-retired Professor of Natural Sciences Bill Thomas to get lab experience as soon as possible. He connected her with two seniors and she was a research assistant on their Capstone project. It gave her a background in tissue culture, which impressed Adimab during her interview.
Good has also conducted research funded by the New Hampshire IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (NH-INBRE), a partnership between Colby-Sawyer and seven other colleges
“NH-INBRE was what first taught me that Colby-Sawyer can help me go anywhere,” Good said. “Colby-Sawyer is a small school, and I like it that way; I’ve been able to take advantages of outside opportunities.”
That attitude led her to Adimab, where another Colby-Sawyer student had interned a couple years ago. It also led her to take courses at MDI Biological Laboratory and Shoals Marine Laboratory, where she learned that the answer to a lot of biomedical questions sounds a lot like Colby-Sawyer’s own philosophy of collaboration multiple perspective.
“You can’t solve biomedical and biotech questions without working with other people, and people with other perspectives,” Good said.
Those experiences formed Good’s ultimate plan to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. dual degree program. It’s an ambitious goal, but well within reach for someone as determined as Good, who is taking a full course load this semester and running the Biology Club while working an off-campus job and training for a half-marathon. Adimab also offered a part-time job with the Molecular Core department, which she happily accepted.
“You create your own opportunities,” Good said, speaking about how she hopes to have contributed to a culture of engaged learning at Colby-Sawyer. “If you want something, go for it.”
Good's internship was made possible in part thanks to a generous gift from the W. Jay Wilson Memorial Scholarship Fund.