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News & Press: People and Places

Meet Mac: A Q&A with ISTH's New Scientific Content Specialist

Monday, February 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
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 Dougald "Mac" Monroe

In January, the ISTH hired Dougald "Mac" Monroe as the new Scientific Content Specialist. He is now serving on a contract basis as the primary source of support in medical/scientific matters for the ISTH staff. He will be working part-time to add content to the ISTH Academy in addition to providing general scientific expertise. A longtime ISTH member, Mac lives near the ISTH headquarters in North Carolina, USA. See below to learn a little more about Mac.


ISTH: Where does the name “Mac” come from?

Mac Monroe: As a friend put it, apparently all males of Scottish ancestry in the US are called Mac. A typical naming structure in Scottish is XXXX MacYYYY CLAN NAME. Mac means “son of”. So I would be Dougald “son of” Dougald of the Clan Monroe. But my given name, Dougald, is hard for folks who are not Scottish to pronounce. So Mac comes from a shortening of my middle name.

 In addition to your work for ISTH, what is your main job title and expertise?

MM: My main job is to work as a researcher studying blood coagulation at the University of North Carolina. Even though I am a PhD biochemist, not a Medical Doctor, my title is Professor of Medicine.


What makes you a great fit for the position of ISTH Scientific Content Specialist?

MM: I have a long connections with the ISTH including having worked on ISTH staff at Congresses and SSC meetings. I think the ISTH is a terrific organization that is getting better and better. And I would like to be a part of that and help in any way I can. I have a long career studying the scientific mechanisms that drive coagulation, hemostasis, and thrombosis and so I hope I can help with some of the great content that ISTH is creating.


When did you join the ISTH as a member?

MM: I am not certain when I joined the ISTH. I was involved as far back as 1983 when I joined the laboratory of Professor Harold Roberts since at that time he was the Secretary General of the ISTH.


How has membership in the ISTH helped your career? 

MM: The ISTH has been an integral part of my scientific life for as long as I can remember. ISTH meetings were the first scientific meetings I attended. Many of my colleagues and collaborators were folks I met through the ISTH. And the ISTH was the forum through which I maintained contact with many of my international colleagues. Particularly through the 1980s and 1990s when international contact was hard, slow, and sporadic, the biannual ISTH Congress was when I knew I would see and catch up with colleagues from Europe and Asia.


What was your first ISTH Congress like? 

MM: The first ISTH Congress I attended was in 1985 in San Diego. It was jam packed with amazing science. In attendance were all these great scientists whose work I had been studying. Plus I got to visit the Marine Center in San Diego (I do not remember if that was part of the official program or I just took advantage of being there).


What was your favorite Congress/Meeting and why? 

MM: In trying to answer the question I started reflecting back on all the Congresses I have attended. And I remembered great talks, and fun posters, and scientific disagreements (those can be fun too), and Congress parties, and seeing old friends I only see every two years, and meeting new friends that I will look forward to seeing again in the years to come. And at each Congress I remembered something amazing. Who could pick a favorite from that?


What has guided your career choices?

MM: I have been one of those blessed folks who just stumbled through life and ended up having a career. I never really thought about a career (in retrospect I probably should have), I just thought about what was the next scientific question and how do we go about answering it.


Who is/was the most influential person in your career and why?

MM: I have been fortunate to have many influential folks helping me and collaborating with me. But I think the most influential has been Professor Harold Roberts. And probably foremost among the things he taught me was to try and tackle problems where the answer mattered to people. Biochemists, like me, if left to their own devices will tend to focus on details. Dr. Roberts was always looking more broadly at what were the big questions and how do you go about trying to answer those questions.


What advice would you give to someone just beginning their career?

MM: I think science these days can be hard as a career because funding is so hard. But I have told people that if you really want to do science, then take a leap of faith and do it. It is always possible you will not succeed, but it is also always possible that you will succeed.


What do you like to do with your free time? 

MM: I am incredibly boring. I exercise, running once upon a time but now walking or biking. I read, mostly novels where the good guy wins not by being big and strong but by being smart and figuring things out. I periodically try my hand at cooking something exotic; often something I tasted at an ISTH meeting in a foreign country and want to try and bring back with me.


In a different life, what would your profession be?

MM: Mathematician. There is a beauty and precision to mathematics. And it does not have to connect to the real world at all. Plus you can we wildly eccentric and still make it just fine as a mathematician.


Do you have any personal mottos or sayings that you live by? 

MM: I guess I try to see all of life as a learning experience. Probably something I inherited from my Dad. He was a teacher much of his life. So whether I do good or mess up, I try to remember to ask myself – What did you learn from that? Hopefully the answer is something that will push me more to doing good and less to messing up.


If you would like to contact Mac, email him here.

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