Sitting down with accomplished CHS alum, Kristina DeSmet

CHS alum, Kristina DeSmet

Kristina DeSmet, PhD, DABT, is a senior toxicologist at United Therapeutics in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and a board certified toxicologist specializing in the development of small molecule drugs.

She is also an active member of the American College of Toxicology and Society of Toxicology and currently sits on the American College of Toxicology Early Career Professional Subcommittee.

DeSmet, who received her master’s in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from UWM, graduated in 2009 from the College of Health Sciences with an Interdisciplinary PhD in Health Sciences. She was the very first to graduate from the program.

Staff recently sat down with DeSmet for a one-on-one conversation about her personal and professional journey and accomplishments, post-graduation.

What kind of work are you doing today?

I am currently a senior toxicologist at United Therapeutics Corporation where my specialization is the development of small molecules administered both orally and topically. To fulfill my role as the nonclinical development project toxicologist, I develop the overall nonclinical scientific strategies for multiple projects, prioritize goals, develop proposals, timelines, budgets, study protocols and reports. In addition, I prepare nonclinical modules for regulatory submissions, and perform risk assessments on excipients, impurities, degradants, extractables and leachables. In lay terms, those are critical elements in the drug development process required to support clinical trials and drug registration.

What are some of your fondest memories from your time at CHS/UWM?

I truly enjoyed my time spent in the lab during graduate school. I had the fortune of working with a number of brilliant and fun researchers. There was nothing more satisfying that conducting an experiment that actually worked and celebrating with your colleagues. And if an experiment didn’t go as planned, you still had fun in the process and were able to learn from your mistakes.

What was one of your favorite classroom experiences at CHS/UWM?

My favorite experience in the classroom was outside of the traditional class setting. I was a program assistant for two summers for the College’s High School Scholars Program. I helped to develop and refine the curriculum and then facilitate the week-long program focusing on forensic sciences for local high school students.  Interacting with students who wanted to learn science was amazing and a truly rewarding experience. I hope that they took away the same love for science that I have.

Who were your mentors/advisors here at CHS?

My faculty advisor was Dr. Janis Eells. She is an amazing mentor, teacher, and critical and creative thinker. She helped to mold me into the scientist that I am today and I am forever grateful. Drs. Jeri-Anne Lyons, Ann Snyder, and David Klemer were my committee members from within CHS. They were all gracious with their time and provided feedback that helped me develop into a better researcher and critical thinker.

What has been your proudest accomplishment or most memorable learning experience since graduation?

In 2013, I passed the American Board of Toxicology exam. I studied for a full year in preparation for this exam. Becoming a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology has been a truly rewarding experience.

Tell us about your family, hobbies, etc.

My family and I live in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina. My husband and I have a two year old daughter, Madison, and are expecting a baby boy in the summer. When I am not at work, I enjoy hanging out with my daughter and husband, working out and enjoying the warm southern weather.