University ties help build post-university career
In an excerpt that shows how Gillings used his ties to the university to build his company, Gillings briefly describes some of his corporation's early projects and his effective use of graduate student researchers.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Dennis Gillings, June 10, 1999. Interview I-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
JM: Give me an example of a bread and butter project early on in that early '80s phase.
DG: Bread and butter. Well, we had--. I remember a cancer project where there was a drug for colon cancer that turned out not to be efficacious. But of course that was the charge, to try to figure out if it was or wasn't. It was an oral product that you would take, and the idea was that it got to the colon cancer quicker than if you had an injection. So, it was quite intriguing, but never worked out. I did a variety of studies. I'm not sure anything was bread and butter. I was pretty good at the statistical side, but hadn't necessarily worked in each of these therapeutic areas. I can go over--. We did [studied] depression [medication]; we did peripheral vascular disease; we did sleep; we did anxiety; cancer, as I just said; and arthritis. All those therapeutic areas were done certainly in the first couple of years, so none of them were bread and butter because I was continually learning new therapeutic areas and more about the biometric measurements that would be the outcomes for those particular diseases.
JM: How did you find key colleagues, staff? What sorts of instincts and rules of thumb did you use to put the group of professionals together?
DG: At Chapel Hill we had lots of good students. Students always need extra dollars, so that was a remarkably potent weapon. They would work all hours of the day or night. We would pay fifteen or twenty dollars an hour, which was very good money. The students would work enormously hard and get things done very productively. There was absolutely no problem. In fact, the students used to like it because they would work hard for a month, and they'd make a few thousand dollars, and they wouldn't have to do anything. They'd go back [with time dedicated] solely to their studies. Now I also had some research assistants who moonlighted. They were staff -- programming staff and other staff within the department. So, they moonlighted and that was good for them too.