Posted by William Nunnelley on 2008-05-16

Cancer researcher Douglas Figg saluted Samford University pharmacy graduates on reaching their goal of earning a degree, and challenged them to use their new degree for something beside simply earning a six-figure paycheck.

"Use the degree you receive today to make a difference," the 1987 Samford pharmacy graduate told this year's McWhorter School of Pharmacy graduates.

He urged them to set goals throughout their lives, and make plans to accomplish those goals. "A goal without a plan is just a wish," he said.

Dr. Figg is a senior scientist at the Center for Cancer Research, National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md. He addressed a McWhorter class of 113 Doctor of Pharmacy recipients and an audience of about 1,500 in Wright Center at Samford.

Figg asked the seniors to think of a variety of situations in which they could make a difference, such as volunteering with a non-government organization to fight multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa or working with the Food and Drug Administration to alter the drug approval process.

"Think of the impact you could have on the profession, your community, the country and the world," he said. "There is often a better way to do things. Challenge the norm . . . and don't be afraid."

He also challenged the pharmacy faculty not to be afraid to submit a grant because "you cannot get a grant funded without submitting it!"

Figg quoted Jim Watson, one of the researchers that characterized the DNA structure, who said "the secret to staying young is to surround yourself with young people." Figg told the graduates to do the same.

"Encourage students to join you," he said. "They will challenge your thinking, keep you abreast of the literature and make you a better professional."