Since she was a student, Elizabeth Westgate Lathers ’01 has been active in community service. At Lafayette, she tutored inmates at Northampton County Prison and was an elementary school science mentor. “There is no better way to make a difference in people’s lives than through service,” she says.
Lathers works for EMD Serono, Inc., the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, in Rockland, Mass., which provides paid time off for employees to get involved in service activities. She participated in a three-day, 50-mile walk for multiple sclerosis and hosted a BBQ dinner at the Hope Lodge in Boston. She also has a say in which nonprofits and local fund-raisers benefit from EMD Serono’s charitable contributions as a member of its community service council.
As associate director of medical information at EMD Serono, she provides medical information to health care providers and other customers on the company’s marketed and investigational drugs, such as Rebif and Novantrone, which are used to treat multiple sclerosis. It’s an important job; doctors use her information when deciding a patient’s course of treatment and pharmacists use it in formulary decisions. She also travels to conferences across North America to support the company’s medical booths and attend hot topics on its therapeutic areas of interest.
Research and writing are crucial to her job, and she built those skills at Lafayette. A chemistry major, Lathers worked with Joseph A. Sherma Jr., Larkin Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, on EXCEL Scholar research. They published four papers together – three on the analysis of sunscreens and one on the active ingredient in motion sickness tablets.
“The lab experience and publications had a great impact on my acceptance into graduate school. I have to thank my chemistry and psychology professors for encouraging me to go down the path of graduate studies, a path I may not have chosen without their advice and support,” says Lathers, who earned her Ph.D. in pharmacology at University of Pennsylvania. “From my first semester at Lafayette, writing was a skill that was strongly emphasized in every course. I know that helped me succeed through a scientific career and into medical writing.”
Lathers was a four-year participant on the crew team and is still active in rowing. This past February, she led a team called Reason to Row to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and competed in the C.R.A.S.H.-B World Indoor Rowing Championship in Boston. She recently purchased a single rowing shell with the goal of competing again in the Head of the Charles Regatta.
“The crew team had a huge influence on my undergraduate career,” she says. “I built lifelong relationships and am still very close with the ‘crew girls,’ as we call ourselves, from the Classes of 2000-2002.”