Alumni Career Experiences: David Johnson

David Johnson

  • CEO, GigaGen
  • Genetics (2005)

What from your experiences, development, and research and interactions at Stanford have you found essential to success in your postgraduate career?

I’ve spent the last several years commercializing genomics, with a particular focus on advancing human health. Arend Sidow’s mentorship has served me extremely well in these efforts, especially his dual focus on both computational and lab methods. It’s exciting to take your technical training and put it to work in the “real world.” Even beyond those technical skills, Arend taught me how to think critically, which has been paramount no matter what I’m doing.

What have you found personally rewarding about your work/field?

I’ve found that the best science is often not funded, because politics and slick salesmanship move money more than the best science. I’ve sought to finance the best science. It’s rewarding to see the best science produce the best products, which benefit human health.

What information would you share with PhD candidates who are interested in your current field?

You should take the time to learn how to think like a scientist, but keep an open mind in terms of what you want to do with your career. If you don’t think that academia is your thing, try to do an internship, take topical classes, or network with alumni to learn about alternative careers. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time transitioning into anything other than an academic postdoc.