Profile: Brendan Gavin '08

Majoring in Biology with a minor in Classics, Brendan Gavin obtained his undergraduate degree from Colby College in 2001. 

He spent the year after graduation teaching high school biology and algebra, followed by a year as a research assistant at Genzyme, before coming to Dartmouth as a graduate student in the Biology department. Working under Professor Patrick Dolph, Brendan did research on two separate projects — the first concerning the generation and characterization of the first fruit fly model of prion disease and the second on the characterization of a new neuronal signaling pathway in the fruit fly eye - before graduating with his Ph.D. in 2008. Currently, he is pursuing a career in patent law and is working in the New York City office of Ropes and Gray, LLP.

His primary reason for choosing this particular field was because he wanted to have a career in which he would "continually be exposed to different disciplines in the life sciences." Specifically, he is currently working in the Life Sciences group of the Intellectual Property group of Ropes and Gray. This position allows him to interact with a wide variety of scientists, mainly in the fields of biology and biochemistry, as the firm's clients range from large pharmaceutical or biotechnological companies to smaller companies and even universities.

During a normal day, Brendan works to get scientists' patents approved by the various governmental Patent Offices. This may include writing patent applications for clients or writing scientific and legal arguments explaining to the Patent Offices why a particular client deserves a patent. His daily work at Ropes and Gray requires him to regularly use skills that he developed at Dartmouth, especially "the ability to critically analyze the scientific work of myself and of others, the ability to write, read and understand scientific literature, and the ability to communicate scientific concepts to someone who may not be an expert in the field."

Brendan obtained this job by applying to several patent law firms in the Boston area, then participating in multiple rounds of interviews at some of them. Before applying, he talked to some other Dartmouth graduates about what the field of patent law was like, although he did not apply to any firms in which he had connections. He eventually accepted an offer from Ropes and Gray, despite the fact that they required him to work out of their New York office. For current students interested in pursuing a career in this field, Brendan strongly recommends honing public speaking and scientific writing skills through journal clubs, lab presentations, and publication of research. He also adds that publishing research is particularly important because it demonstrates to potential employers that you were successful in your research career.

As far as the future goes, Brendan is planning to transfer in the fall to the Boston office of Ropes and Gray. There, he will continue working part-time for the firm while attending the Boston University School of Law.