Meet Paul Nioi, biomedical research scientist and world traveler!
Note: The Amgen Foundation provides funding to support Khan Academy's biology content.
Hi, I'm Paul Nioi!
What kind of work do you do?
I am a scientist in the Research and Development Group at Amgen. I focus on making sure that the medicines we develop are safe and don’t have any serious side effects.
Paul examining cells to test a new heart disease medicine
For this, we do a lot of work in our lab around manipulating human cells and studying how changes in human genomes can lead to more or less side effects. The pharmaceutical industry is interesting because I’m exposed not only to science, but also to business on a daily basis.
How did you become interested in biology, and what did you study?
My interest stems back to when I was a kid. My dad worked on an oil rig and he would always bring back oil samples, which made me curious about chemistry. At the same time, my mom worked in a doctor’s office and I enjoyed hearing about how she was helping treat patients. This exposure made me want to combine basic science and health care to treat diseases and, for as long as I can remember, that has been my focus.
Paul testing the safety of a medicine in development
During university, I studied pharmacology, the study of treating diseases and developing drugs. My Ph.D. was also very applied, and I studied how the human body responds to stress.
What do you do for fun in your spare time?
I have three kids, so I am constantly with them. In my spare time, I also love running, art and travel. Running is almost therapeutic for me and I often have my best ideas during this time.
Since science takes a lot of creativity, I appreciate art and love to visit museums and galleries. I also caught the travel bug at a young age since I’m originally from Scotland, but my dad is from Italy. I am always happy when I can combine these passions.
Paul and his wife visiting Paris
What’s your one piece of advice for people interested in biology?
Don’t let people dissuade you from trying something new and experimenting. People always think that they know best, but I have been humbled by research before and learned that biases can be completely wrong.
The real beauty of biology is trying something new, gathering the data, learning from it and adjusting accordingly.