Daily Discoveries. Paul is a scientist in the Research and Development Group at Amgen where he is focused largely on the development of novel approaches for evaluating potential new medicines using genetics, including recent scientific breakthroughs in heart disease. Paul and his team have done a lot of work around manipulating human cells to study how changes in the human genome can help patients overcome heart disease and other serious health challenges. In this role, he also works to make sure that the medicines they develop will be safe and effective for the patients who need them
The Driving Force. Paul’s passion for science dates all the way back to his childhood. “My father worked in the oil industry and my mother worked in a doctor’s office,” says Nioi. “I have distinct memories of studying samples of oil with my dad and listening to my mother tell stories about the patients she would help.” It was those experiences that formed the basis for Paul’s interest in going into medicine. “I was drawn to the idea of combining my fascination with science with my desire to help advance the health of real people who are struggling.”
Recent technological breakthroughs—including in the area of heart disease—have unlocked a whole new world of opportunity to apply our discoveries to new areas of medicine.
Challenges, Chances and Looking Forward. “There’s a genuine excitement and hunger around the realization that recent technological breakthroughs—including in the area of heart disease—have unlocked a whole new world of opportunity to apply our discoveries to new areas of medicine. We’ve reached a point now where we can imagine being able to truly understand human genetics and the underpinnings of disease. This is something I still struggle to wrap my head around,” says Nioi. “We used to dream about this kind of thing. Now, we’re seeing how these concepts are actually changing the lives of patients, which is exactly why I wanted to go into medicine in the first place. We are living through a revolution in how we understand and treat human disease using genomics, and I think we’re going to see a huge explosion in that area in the next five years.”
A career in the field of drug discovery does not come without its challenges, however. “I always tell people—especially young scientists—be careful not to let others dissuade you from expressing or pursuing your ideas,” says Nioi. “All ideas started out as radical in one way or another. As scientists, it’s our job to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Inhibition is an important human instinct, but—particularly in this field—we must be cautious not to let our inhibitions hold us back.”