Meet Joesph Wiencek, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology at UVA School of Medicine.
This post is part of a series of interviews with new/junior faculty. Stay tuned for more interviews with your colleagues!
Q: How long have you been at UVA and where were you before you came to UVA?
My position at UVA started on July 24th 2017. Before my arrival at UVA, I spent 2 years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where I completed a fellowship in Clinical Chemistry.
Q: Is there something that you’ve worked on or accomplished in your career that you’re particularly proud of or glad you were able to experience?
There is a very specific case I am proud that I was involved in. Our biochemical genetics laboratory kept getting a pathognomonic peak of alloisoleucine for a 3 year old female on our plasma amino acid method. However, the child had an unremarkable newborn screen and no other biochemical evidence of maple syrup urine disease. Through research and collaboration with another clinical chemist at Washington University, we were able to tease out that the alloisoleucine peak was an artefact caused by a medication the child was prescribed. We went on to publish our findings, which has led to the awareness of this interference nationally and internationally.
Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This is a great question. When I was a kid, I’m not sure I paid that much attention on what I wanted to be when I grew up. However, I do recall the vary instant that I thought chemistry could be a career path for me. I was in my 10th grade chemistry class, and we were going to make an apple flavored pie without using any apples. I thought this was ludicrous until I tried the Ritz cracker filled pie that was chemically changed to taste just like a tart apple pie with lemon juice and other natural ingredients. It was this moment that sent me down a path towards chemistry and eventually clinical chemistry.
Q: A favorite spot to grab lunch during the day?
On the days I do not bring lunch with me, you would probably catch me eating a Western Civ substituted with an Impossible Burger at Boylan Heights. It is by far the best vegetarian burger I have ever had.
Q: Do you have any children or fur babies at home that you would like to tell us about?
While in Nashville, my wife and I adopted three rescue dogs after each grand rounds I gave. I have yet to give a grand rounds at UVA but I think 3 dogs may be our limit.
Q: Do you have a favorite local restaurant or hangout spot?
My wife and I really like to frequent the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s a great place to catch a movie and unwind after both of our work weeks are over.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Being from greater Cleveland Ohio, the orange color from UVA was already instilled in my veins. Go Hoos and go Browns!