STEM Career Spotlight: Ashlie Cromer
Ashlie Cromer, PhD, is senior medical science liaison, US Medical Field at Amgen. Recently, we sat down with Ashlie to learn more about her career journey and her passion for volunteering. Keep reading to learn more!
Ashlie’s Career Background
I have a PhD in biomedical science and started my career as a research scientist in a lab, specializing in cardiovascular disease and before that, neuroscience. After moving into industry almost eight years ago, I joined Amgen in 2019. As a field-based senior medical science liaison, I am the medical face of Amgen for cardiovascular healthcare professionals and healthcare providers in South Carolina and Georgia.
What is your day-to-day like in your role as a Medical Science Liaison?
I have scientific discussions with top opinion leaders from institutions at both a state and national level. It really is a wonderful job for somebody who loves to keep learning. When I took my first medical science liaison role, I thought, this is amazing, I am going to be paid to talk about science to people who love science. How cool is that!
What challenges have you faced throughout your career journey?
Throughout my time in school, college and even when I started my career, I felt as a woman that I had to work harder and do better to be taken seriously as a scientist. At this point, I’ve pushed that aside and feel secure in what I do. Today, I wonder if some of the pressure I felt as a woman was self-imposed rather than external. I think the biggest thing is accepting that you don’t know all the answers. And that is the beauty of science. If we knew all the answers, there would be nothing left to research. And some of the best experiments come out of failed ones!
Who are your scientific inspirations?
I think that the work that Jane Goodall has done with chimpanzees is inspiring. When I was young, I also looked up to a female astronomer called Caroline Herschel.
How did you become interested in science?
Oh, gosh, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love science. My initial interest was in the planets and the stars. I then became interested in medicine as I was fascinated about how intricately designed the body is and how it amazingly works together as a whole. And that’s what ultimately directed me towards research science versus the MD route. I was fortunate to have some very good teachers that guided me along the way, starting with when I was in elementary school. Finding those people early on helped nurture my interest and made me realize that it’s okay to want to do something different. Most little girls don’t want to be scientists, or at least that was my experience when I was younger. Hopefully that’s changing now.
What was the first scientific experiment you remember?
When I was in third grade, I won the state science fair with my experiment, called How strong is hair? I tested the different colors and different textures of hair to see if there was a color or a texture combination that was stronger than another. I actually made a little contraption, where I would secure the hair across two bars at the top. I would then measure it with small marbles to see when the hair would break.
What is your favorite science joke?
I’m not very good at jokes but here goes. A photon checks into a hotel and is asked if he needs any help with his luggage. He says, “No, thanks, I am traveling light!”
What made you decide to volunteer with LabXchange?
I have always loved education. When I was working on my PhD, I taught at the University of South Carolina and also worked as an adjunct instructor at the local Technical College for nursing students. The Amgen Foundation’s mission and vision, [to ensure that everyone, everywhere can participate in science,] really resonated with me. When I heard about LabXchange, I knew that was something that I wanted to be part of. My manager was totally supportive, saying if you want to do it, go for it and figure it out.
I initially looked at reviewing materials on LabXchange, but I wanted to take it a stage further and work on creating content. I saw areas on the platform where I thought I could really add value. And so, I worked on developing cell signaling content, which aligns with my area of expertise. Working with the LabXchange team, I have published two modules and I am now working on the third, which tells the story of cholesterol, LDL receptors and treatment. It has been a wonderful experience throughout. The LabXchange team has been totally flexible and I have been able to get as involved as much as time and other commitments allow.
What motivates you to continue creating educational content with LabXchange?
I feel passionate about educating future scientists around the world. LabXchange gives students the opportunity to experience lab experiments, access topics they are interested in as well as understanding the huge range of different careers available in STEM. When I was a kid, I wasn’t aware of what it meant to be a scientist and what working in industry would look like, but LabXchange provides that wider view of how it all fits together. It’s a privilege to be part of this effort.
What’s the one thing you feel LabXchange users should know about the biotech industry?
People don’t realize all of the areas that are present in any pharmaceutical or biotech company. It’s so broad and diverse – everything from scientific research, quality, process development, sales, marketing, and communications.