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David Spector

Alumni Spotlight: David Spector

David Spector entered ESF as a pre-med student. He majored in biochemistry, with a minor in biotechnology, and quickly became fascinated with the biochemistry of disease inspired by his experiences as the primary caregiver for a disabled parent and his fight with cancer in his youth.

During his studies at ESF, he fell in love with the research process, which he claims changed the course of his career.

Spector is now a research fellow with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education (ORISE), based in the clinical chemistry branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He runs the Free Thyroxine Routine method, which is a high throughput method for measuring the thyroid hormone thyroxine using Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LCMS).

Thyroid tests are among the top 10 most commonly ordered blood tests in healthcare; the hormone they study (thyroxine) was the number two most prescribed medication in the United States in 2020 and is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Spector explains that, despite its profound clinical significance, current tests for measuring thyroxine in blood samples are highly inaccurate, and often tests from different manufacturers don’t agree with each other.

Spector loves how important the work is. “I love coming to work every day knowing I am working to make the world a better place. I wouldn’t be a real Stumpy if I didn’t feel this way,” he said.

When describing his time at ESF, Spector said, “I will never stop being absolutely amazed at the quality of character of the typical ESF student. I entered ESF as a nontraditional student at 35 years old, convinced I was so much older than my classmates that I should avoid socializing with them lest I become the ‘annoying old guy.’ Despite my very best efforts, I made some fabulous friends that I am still close with today.” 

“I also wouldn’t be where I am today without the education and experiences I had access to at ESF. When I discuss my time at ESF with my ORISE peers here at the CDC, they are all amazed at the quality and amount of research I had access to during my undergrad. The education I received at ESF was top-notch, far better than I would have received at many larger and more expensive ‘brand name’ institutions.”

Spector is now applying to graduate programs for admittance in the 2024-25 fall academic year, and we wish him all the best on his academic journey.

Do you have a career story or a memorable moment from your time at ESF to share? The Alumni Office would love to share your story. Drop a line to alumni@esf.edu.