For Dr. Scott Boley, Sinclair Research’s Senior Vice President of Research and Operations, there was never any question about what he wanted to do with his life.
“From the time I was about ten or twelve years old, I always knew I wanted to be a scientist,” Boley says. “I’ve always wanted to know ‘why,’ and to me, that is a core competency in a scientist, to want to know ‘why’ about everything.”
Boley says he decided to study biochemistry, which was then a fairly new discipline, because it was “the science of life.” At first, he thought he’d stay in academia forever, but as he got older, practicality won out.
“When I was in grad school, I made a commitment to myself that I was never going to work for industry, and I was never going to wear a tie,” Boley recalls. “I was going to work in the ivory tower, I was going to win a Nobel Prize and retire to somewhere nice.”
But once Boley began his post-doctoral work doing in vivo studies on mice, he grew increasingly interested in the practical applications of his research.
“I wanted to know more, because it was like, ‘Oh, this data goes somewhere, and then somebody does something with it, and then eventually it ends up helping a patient,” Boley explains. “I wanted to move a little bit closer to the patient. That’s when I went to Eli Lilly.”
Since then, Boley has spent 18 years in drug development research, first with Eli Lilly, and then with MPI Research, a Contract Research Organization (CRO) that was later bought out by Charles River, before arriving at Sinclair in June of 2018.
Boley, who describes himself as a shy introvert – “I’m a true scientist, I don’t like people!” he jokes with a chuckle – says he appreciates that drug research gives him the ability to improve people’s lives without having to do a lot of face-to-face interaction. “I could never be an M.D.,” he says, “but I can work behind the scenes and work on the data that helps support them.”
Boley says that when he moved from Eli Lilly to MPI Research, he realized the massive impact CROs were having on medicine. “At a big pharma company, you may work on four or five projects in your entire career,” he says. “At a CRO, I can work on four or five projects in a month.”
While Boley has always felt gratified that his research helps patients live better lives, he says the work became much more personal to him after losing his father to lung cancer two years ago. Talking about his dad, he gets choked up, and describes him as “a good role model – he taught me to do the best that I could do at whatever I was doing.” Boley says that next to his wife of 30 years, his father was always his biggest supporter. Although the elder Boley never went to college himself, he worked hard at multiple jobs to make sure all six of his children could attend, and in the midst of his battle with cancer, he encouraged his son to accept a position at Sinclair even though it meant moving out-of-state while he fought for his life. “He was a big supporter of me moving away,” says Boley. “My siblings weren’t thrilled about it … but he told me, ‘You have to go; you have to see how far you can take this.’ So that’s what I did.”
Boley’s passion for the work he does is all-consuming, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I don’t really have any hobbies,” he says. “I work all the time. People say ‘work shouldn’t define you.’ My response to that is ‘why?’ I absolutely love what I do. I see the value in it and I can’t think of doing anything else. My wife is convinced she’ll find me dead at the computer, and I’m okay with that.”