Paul McDonald named a Passion in Science Award winner

Paul McDonald, PhD
Paul McDonald, PhD

Paul McDonald, a research scientist at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, was recognized as a Humanitarian Duty Award winner, as part of the inaugural New England Biolabs Passion in Science Awards.

Part of 40th anniversary celebration of New England Biolabs, the Passion in Science Awards honor scientists dedicated to solving some of society’s greatest challenges.

“Immense possibilities for good lie within each of us,” McDonald said in a press release from New England Biolabs. “As scientists, we often have unique opportunities to apply what we know in different ways to shine a light on local and global issues. We only need to find the energy and courage to do so.”

McDonald is one of 15 scientists selected from a pool of more than 600 applicants. He was recognized for his research and policy recommendations to reduce incidents of suicide in the U.S. Army.

A trained neuroscientist, McDonald identified metrics within Army databases to help senior Army leadership understand trends in high-risk behavior among Army soldiers. As the only scientific advisor to the Army Health Promotion Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Task Force, directed by the vice chief of staff of the Army, McDonald worked with Army staff to make more than 280 policy recommendations to improve surveillance and detection of high-risk behavior. They also identified specific trends and policy gaps that allowed for at-risk soldiers to remain undetected within the Army system.

“By shining a light on high-risk behavior and recommending specific and actionable policy changes, the task force improved accountability and awareness of at-risk soldiers,” McDonald said.

Currently, McDonald works in the laboratory of Kenneth Oestreich, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, researching the molecular mechanisms of cell development in the immune system.

“Whether it’s studying cellular immunology, understand neural mechanisms within the brain, or using large databases to model and predict high-risk behavior in Soldiers, the common thread that drives me is improving the human condition,” McDonald said.

New England Biolabs, Inc. is the industry leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications and now offers the largest selection of recombinant and native enzymes for genomic research.