Dr. Dorothy Adcock, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Senior Vice President (SVP), was first introduced in a previous article. However, we wanted to take an opportunity for her to share her professional journey and discuss specific insights about her career as a physician, research scientist, and industry executive.

Your career spans several decades, how did you become interested in medicine, pathology, and hemostasis?

My father and three of my older siblings were physicians. I always liked science, so going into medicine seemed like the logical choice. I became interested in hemostasis very early in my pathology residency, when an anesthesiologist challenged me about why a patient was bleeding acutely in the operating room. I did not know the answer at that time but vowed to figure it out. I began to learn a lot about coagulation and was lucky to be in a program that had many experts in the field of hemostasis. This offered me many wonderful opportunities.

What challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?

Of course, one of the most significant challenges that any woman with a professional career faces is balancing home life and raising a family with the demands of a career. I believe in the 1990’s, when my daughter was born, the medical profession was less accommodating than it is now. I don’t know that I overcame this challenge, but rather tried to be a role-model for my daughter as to what can be achieved with hard work and devotion. This was even more of a challenge when I became a single mom in the early 2000’s. To my daughter’s benefit, my job demanded travel, for which she often joined me. We had many wonderful trips to places such as Australia, Geneva, London, Paris, New York City, and Hawaii, to name a few.

Is there an individual or group of professionals who were able to help you through your career? 

Two of my older sisters, who are physicians, were a tremendous emotional support to me throughout my career. Luckily, I found the entire field of hemostasis to be extremely supportive of each other, with very much a pay-it forward attitude. I don’t know if this is true of other fields in medicine, but I felt tremendous support from my colleagues and had amazing mentors including Jim Day, Doug Triplett, Heinz Joist, and my dear friend Richard Marlar.

Have you had the opportunity to mentor a junior colleague or student? 

I have mentored many colleagues and students over the decades I have been in practice. This was something I actively pursued and considered my responsibility. I believe a wonderful legacy is to help your junior colleagues grow and learn so that they can surpass you in their achievements. When I became CMO of Labcorp and left the hemostasis laboratory I directed for many years, I felt confident knowing the lab was in excellent hands. My colleagues at the hemostasis laboratory continue to grow that laboratory and provide excellent service to this day.

Your career includes experience in clinical pathology, clinical lab director, governmental agencies, and laboratory executive leadership. Additionally, you are a prolific author of many peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. What is your favorite activity and why? 

My very favorite activity is teaching. I enjoy taking complex subjects (such as coagulation) and making them logical and understandable. 

What accomplishment(s) stand out in your career? 

One of the most impactful studies I performed was the effect of the blood collection tube used on the monitoring of anticoagulant therapy, specifically warfarin. For many years, warfarin was the most commonly used anticoagulant in the world. This study led to international changes in the labelling of the correct collection tube (so that it could be easily identified). It also changed laboratory accreditation standards on how laboratories should perform the testing to determine if patients were in the therapeutic range for warfarin therapy.

What has changed the most in your area(s) of expertise throughout your career over the years? 

Maybe a better question is “what hasn’t?” One of the most exciting changes has been in the treatment of hereditary bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia. The new drug therapies are life changing. Now there are even genetic therapies that may offer a cure. At a hemostasis conference a few years back, when the very positive results of the clinical trials on these drug and gene therapies were reported, the audience of physicians and research scientists was in tears and on our feet with resounding applause. I will never forget that moment.

You came to Beacon as SVP and CMO in 2021. Why did you come to Beacon and what is your role? 

I have worked with Beacon in a number of different roles for about a decade. Early on, I helped draft policies on hemostasis testing. As Labcorp CMO, I was also effectively CMO over Beacon. It was an easy transition to forego the role of Labcorp CMO and devote my time to Beacon only. My primary role is to help draft and review all policies, so they are medically correct and appropriate. 

If you were to start your career over, would you approach it differently? 

I am not one to look back and think “what if.” I feel very fortunate to have had an interesting, exciting, and rewarding career and to have made wonderful and lasting friends along the way.

What advice would you give to students or new laboratory professionals whose careers are just starting out? 

Integrity is a key characteristic to a successful career. Treat your career as a mission and approach it with passion. Do this for the right reasons and not to achieve prestige or power. I feel strongly that you should live by example. You cannot have expectations of others that you do not hold yourself. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and be a “doer.” Be a coach rather than a judge (attributed to Deming). Nurture the strengths and talents of all others around you. Be fair and do so consistently, and don’t be afraid to see others excel and to share in their joy. It has also benefited me greatly to find a niche (hemostasis) that interests me and to try to become an expert in that area.