Volume 94 Issue 27 | p. 28
Issue Date: July 4, 2016

Career Ladder
: Salvatore La Rosa


Children’s Tumor Foundation vice president for R&D leaves behind music for a medicinal chemistry career
Department: Career & Employment
Keywords: career ladder, careers, medicinal chemistry, Childrens Tumor Foundation
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Credit: Courtesy of Salvatore La Rosa
Salvatore La Rosa as a child playing the piano.
 
Credit: Courtesy of Salvatore La Rosa

1982
A musical upbringing in Sicily

 

Growing up in Messina, Italy, La Rosa was interested in science, but his great love was the piano, which he started playing at age six. “I studied in a conservatory for 12 years. This was something I always carried with me.”

1997
Choosing chemistry over classical music

 

After completing a degree in piano, La Rosa took a hard look at his prospects. He decided “piano is a passion, and I love doing it, but I think my future is somewhere else.” La Rosa was majoring in chemistry at the University of Messina, but he didn’t realize it might be his life’s work until he learned that chemists make medicines to help cure diseases. “That completely changed my perspective.”

1999
Seeking global experience

 

La Rosa went to graduate school at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, wanting to see more of the world. There, he worked on an international medicinal chemistry research project that became his new passion. “The thing that really blew my mind was being part of a larger team. I said, ‘I love this. This is the place for me.’ After that, music was gone.”

2004
Finding a fit in drug discovery

 

After short stints at two companies, La Rosa settled at Siena Biotech in Tuscany, where he rose through the ranks to lead a team of chemists working on Huntington’s disease drug discovery. “I had the chance to use my creativity to solve problems, to be proactive. They gave us a lot of space. It was really a dream place.”

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Credit: Courtesy of Salvatore La Rosa
Salvatore La Rosa standing in front of a lab bench with his team of chemists.
 
Credit: Courtesy of Salvatore La Rosa

2013
Surviving a company’s demise

 

La Rosa had been at Siena for nine years when the company, which was owned by a bank, fell victim to the recent global financial crisis. “I was still there, but I knew what was happening. It was one of those situations where you say, ‘What am I doing here? I’m waiting for this situation to collapse.’ ”

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Credit: Courtesy of Salvatore La Rosa
Salvatore La Rosa on a NASDAQ billboard.
 
Credit: Courtesy of Salvatore La Rosa

Today
Finding cures for children’s tumors

 

A former colleague offered La Rosa a job in New York City at the nonprofit Children’s Tumor Foundation, which supports research into neurofibromatosis, a benign tumor that can be debilitating. Now La Rosa is vice president for R&D. Working with patients and doctors is completely different from working in industry, he says. And he loves it. “There is a really strong drive to do something that is useful for patients today.”

 

Know a chemist with an interesting career path? Tell C&EN about it at cenm.ag/careerladder.

Check C&ENJobs for the latest job listings, as well as featured videos on what chemists do.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Comments
Dr Jignesh Patel (Fri Jul 08 23:57:41 EDT 2016)
Proud of you "Salvo" - we use to call him by this name during Strathclyde time - a good friend from Graduate school. We shared a lab - taught me basics of bench chemistry, is genius in computer works. Never reflected about his passion for music. Best wishes for future endeavours. Regards - Jignesh
Dr. Antonio Franco Bella (Thu Sep 22 18:47:39 EDT 2016)
Very impressed by Salvo!
Leaderships he showed during the time at Messina University has been confirmed! His creativity and passion for Science will surely help him to fulfill his Epigenetic dream!
Antonio Franco (Mon Jan 02 15:45:22 EST 2017)
testosterone levels??
Riccardo Marano,neurologist in Messina. (Mon Nov 28 10:50:29 EST 2016)
With compliments !
Antonio Franco (Mon Jan 02 15:43:03 EST 2017)
Very much likewise a Epigegenetics
Antonio Franco Bella  (Sun Jun 11 16:23:39 EDT 2017)
How many years of CTF research on NF1, NF2 and how many drugs in phase III clinical Trial?

Dr. Antonio Franco Bella
Tanweer Khan (Wed Jul 12 12:03:42 EDT 2017)
Nice to be re connected, with one of the nicest person from Strathclyde.

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