Career advice from the guy that has done it all.
Author: Travis Block | Category: Around Campus | October 27, 2014
Dr. Peter Johnson has quit more jobs than most ever will. At 38 years old, he was running an NIH funded
lab, had a successful career as a reconstructive surgeon, and was the founder
and president of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative. This is when he was offered a job as the
chair of the Plastic Surgery Department at Case Western. For most, this would define a successful
career, however, for Dr. Johnson, this inspired him to quit his job and move to
After resigning at Pittsburgh, he
started and later sold TissueInformatics, and has since been an executive at a
number of biotech companies. Currently, he
serves as executive vice president of Vancive Medical Technologies,
Co-Editor-in-Chief of Tissue Engineering, and President as well as CEO of
Scintellix Consulting. In addition, he takes
time to publish novels, speak to students across the country, and take an annual
bike ride in the European countryside with his wife.
Last week, he
traveled to San Antonio to meet with students, give a seminar, and present at
the BME Journal Club meeting. He spoke
about his career path and offered advice on how to make sure your career plan
is appropriate for your strengths and goals.
He walked us through a couple of his favorite techniques for doing this,
and allowed the university to post his slides online. While he did offer prescriptive steps for
creating a career plan that’s right for individuals, his talk was more
motivational than technical. Perhaps the
biggest theme of his talk was not being afraid of risk as he repeated again and
again, “risk is the only legal, long-acting, performance-enhancing drug.” He cautioned against being pessimistic and
playing it safe, and encouraged everyone to take risks to achieve their goals
and reassured everyone that risk would bring out the best in them and help them
land on their feet.
the BME Journal Club, he discussed the editing process at the Journal of Tissue
Engineering and offered advice on how to optimize your publication strategy. Afterwards, he offered to give future talks
to the journal club remotely on topics related to publishing and editing
journal articles. No dates have been
finalized for this, but the journal club is excited to host him again.
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