Research at Hendrix

John C. Byrd, M.D. '87

John C. Byrd, M.D. '87

Chemistry Major

Director, Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Current projects

I oversee the academic, clinical, and educational activities of 44 M.D. and Ph.D. faculty and more than 150 support staff. My primary focus and goal here is building the best hematology division in the United States that fosters both women and minority members in science. Taking charge of changing the lack of diversity in science is something that I am particularly passionate about and stand proud that 24 members of my division are women or minorities. Separate from this administrative role, I also co-direct a large laboratory group of greater than 50 individuals focused on experimental therapeutics (i.e. drug development) in blood derived cancers (i.e. leukemia and lymphoma) and also fundamental lymphoid biology. Our laboratory differs from many other labs in that we are focused on research that is translational in nature. Translational research focuses on areas ripe for clinical application.  Our laboratory and clinical team has been instrumental in the development of a paradigm changing medication for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma called ibrutinib.   This has been truly a humbling project where laboratory work ultimately has translated to development of a patient friendly therapy that saves the lives of many. 

Undergraduate Research

As chemistry major at Hendrix, I had the opportunity to work on an organic chemistry synthesis project of making derivatives of an antimalarial drug called primaquine. I worked on this project for two years during the school year and also during the summer as part of an independent study. As part of this effort, I was able to work one on one with academically driven and very patient professor that helped me during a critical time to ultimately choose the correct career pathway. Had I not been given this opportunity by Dr. Goodwin at Hendrix, I likely would be practicing clinical medicine alone at this time.  Ultimately, anything our laboratory and clinical research group has accomplished must ultimately be credited to Dr. Goodwin and also Hendrix College belief in me as a student and individual.

How Hendrix prepared me for success

The education provided by Hendrix College collectively included a broad liberal arts base that made it possible to relate to people in written and oral communications. This education occurred not only in the classroom but also through the interactions with many diverse students who in the end were also my teachers. Separate from this, the satisfaction and passion of all faculty members at Hendrix with what they are doing brought forth a motivating drive to pursue my dreams so in the end I would find similar satisfaction.  

Future plans

Our laboratory is now actively engaged with providing a summer program for Hendrix students interested in doing medical research that has a translational focus. In doing this, we hope to help students discover their true passions as they move forward to the future.  After three years of sponsoring this program, the benefits are starting to be measured with talented students winning national research awards or getting into graduate or medical schools where they can pursue their ultimate career goal. 

My advice

In the world of science today teamwork is essential to making important, paradigm-changing discoveries. Being well-rounded, open-minded, willing to change, and hard-working provides the best chance of being successful in this area. However, most important is being passionate about what you pursue! The education provided at Hendrix provides the best opportunity for this.