Raj (SB) Rajur is Founder and CEO of CreaGen Inc and the Founder and BOD of C2I Accelerator. Raj has been involved in the NESACS for 18 years – Medicinal Chemistry Division since 2004 and Chair of the NESACS local section in 2020.
In this Member Volunteer Spotlight, learn more how Raj became involved in volunteering as part of ACS, opportunities for mentorship, and advice to others interested in volunteering.
How did you become involved in this volunteer opportunity / position (including details regarding application / interview process if applicable)?
I used to attend the NESACS medicinal chemistry meetings often held at Boston College, where I was doing my postdoctoral work. These were my go-to meetings; I always wanted to volunteer but did not know who to contact. After my postdoctoral studies, I joined ArQule, where I had the opportunity to meet with Patrick Gordon and Michael singer, who were active members of NESACS. Michael always suggested I attend the NESACS meetings and participate in the section’s activities. Patrick Gordon invited me to one of the monthly meetings at the Cambridge Holiday Inn. He introduced me to the medicinal chemistry chair, Pam Nagafuji, who was finishing her term and looking for a successor for the group. In 2004 I took that opportunity to become the program chair and the following year as the Chair of the Medicinal Chemistry group. Since then, I have been enjoying the volunteer work. It allows me to interact with scientists working in various fields of drug discovery and is an excellent opportunity to network with them. With the help of volunteers, I have organized multiple symposia covering cutting-edge research in different fields of medicinal chemistry.
For this volunteer opportunity / position did you have a mentor and/or do you serve as a mentor to others participants in this program?
When I joined the NESACS Medicinal Chemistry group, I benefited from mentorship from many members. Patrick Gordon, and Michael Singer, helped with the Medicinal Chemistry group and the NESACS activities. Norton Peet and Mukund Chorghade helped with speaker suggestions for the symposia/meetings. Mike Filosa was the person who helped with my candidacy for the NESACS Chair.
Since I took over as the Chair of the Medicinal Chemistry group, with the help of volunteers, I improved the meeting format and increased the visibility of the group and the attendance at each meeting.
Our group mission is to advance knowledge and understanding of drug discovery research by organizing world-class quality symposia. Our meetings provide attendees access to top-quality science presenters and offer unique networking connectivity with thought leaders in the scientific community. In our weekly meetings, we brainstorm how to bring the best quality symposia to the local section, thanks to current members Mark Ashwell, Dan Elbaum, Brian Aquila, Paul Greenspan, Blaise Lippa, Andrew Scholte, Scott Edmondson, Peet Fuller, Adrian Hobson, Mala Gopalsamy, Yun Ding, Kap-Sun Yeung, and Anna Singer.
What has been the most rewarding / exciting component of this volunteer opportunity / position?
One of this opportunity’s most rewarding and exciting components was establishing a new Annual Advances in Chemical Sciences Symposium series to bring academic and industrial speakers under one roof to share cutting-edge research in new methodologies and drug discovery research. This event provides me an opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in the field, share my expertise and knowledge, and contribute to the group’s mission of advancing knowledge in drug discovery research.
This all-day annual signature event always includes a Nobel laureate as the keynote speaker. The event brings together more than 250 attendees and 20 exhibitors. The event is mainly supported by local biotech and pharmaceutical companies. The exciting part of this opportunity is it allows attendees to connect with other individuals who are passionate about the subject and provides great networking opportunities. The other rewarding aspects of this opportunity are to give back to the research community, make a positive impact and connect with like-minded individuals.
What advice would you give to other individuals considering this volunteer opportunity / position?
The Medicinal Chemistry group always welcomes volunteers. We are a team of dedicated people who enjoy working together to organize meetings that cover the latest discoveries in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Before you volunteer, it is essential to understand why you want to volunteer and what you hope to gain from the experience. Do you have time and commitment? Are you passionate about the field? Do you want to gain new skills, expand your network, and learn about the group’s mission, values, and needs? If yes, you are the right person to join the group.
My advice for anyone who is interested in volunteer opportunities is to consider how you would like to contribute to the mission of the group. Once you have committed to volunteer for the committee, we would like you to be proactive in your approach and take the initiative to identify ways that you can contribute effectively and add value.
NESACS has many volunteer opportunities, and we welcome you. I suggest that if you are interested in volunteering, attend a NESACS Board Meeting to meet people and get an idea of the activities of the various committees.
If you would like to join the Medicinal Chemistry group, please get in touch with any of the organizing committee members or email Anna Singer, Administrative Coordinator of NESACS.