A Geneticist-Molecular Biologist Who Became a Patent Lawyer

Rochelle Karen Seide, who was educated as a biologist, now enjoys a rewarding career as a patent attorney specializing in biotechnology. After beginning her studies in bacteriology and earning a PhD in human genetics, she completed her schooling with a law degree. This seemingly radical career change, she says, came naturally enough as an extension of her inborn people skills.

"Even when I was a scientist [at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine], I spent a lot of time with other people teaching and doing genetic counseling. I liked the interpersonal aspects of my work as well as the science. Patent practice lets me use them both."

Dr. Seide became an attorney in the New York firm of Brumbaugh, Graves, Donohue & Raymond. In her specialty of intellectual-property law, she spends much of her time in litigation and counseling: Does a new biotechnology process or product merit a patent? Can a client expect good protection for the life of the patent? To answer such questions, she must understand the cutting-edge research that her clients are doing. She could not do this without her expertise in-and love for-science.

Dr. Seide feels that it was important to focus on science for its own sake while working toward her PhD. Still, she encourages students to understand that "if you want to do science from another perspective, more avenues are open to you. I have found how exciting it is to learn from people in other disciplines and to look at science from other perspectives."

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