As a freshman at Madison East High School, Lynette Brennan Childs knew that genetics was for her. Today, Childs is a research associate for Infigen, Inc. in DeForest. Formed in 1997, Infigen is a biotechnology company commercializing cloning services in the fields of human health and animal agriculture.
She spends half her time in the company’s cloning division. The other half is spent working on various projects in genomics and microarray research. One of Infigen’s many projects involves cloning cattle with cells containing human proteins that are expressed in milk. The proteins are used in the treatment of human blood- clotting disorders.
What Childs likes most about her job at Infigen are her colleagues. “We’re a close-knit group and have grown together as the company has grown.” She also likes the fact that management has allowed her to move up in the company as she has gained experience and expanded her knowledge.
Childs says her education and work experiences helped prepare her for her current position. At the UW-Madison, she worked in geneticist Bill Engels’ laboratory where she became a technician studying how fruit flies repair damaged DNA. Scientists now believe that the DNA repair mechanism Childs helped reveal is important in higher organisms, including mammals. Both Engels and the lab work helped build her knowledge base, says Childs, who earned her bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and genetics from the College in 1994.
After graduation Childs moved to the Medical School where she studied lung transplants in cystic fibrosis patients and the aging of the normal human lung. She then returned to the genetics department to manage an ophthalmology and visual sciences lab. Childs joined ABS Global in May 1997. As a research assistant, she oversaw the management and testing of Genmark technologies, which help cattle breeders detect existing or hidden genetic disorders in their herds.
Childs says her education strengthened her critical-thinking skills, which are invaluable in scientific research. Her advice to genetics students is to get a lot of hands-on lab experience. “It takes a certain type of person to enjoy day-to-day research work. If you do like it, try to learn as much as you can from teachers and the people you work for.”