Scientists Rock! is a monthly Q&A where we pull an AbbVie scientist out of a lab to hear what makes him or her tick. This month, we chat with Vincent S. Stoll, Ph.D., research fellow and associate director of structural biology, AbbVie. Known as Vinnie, he wears Hawaiian shirts in the lab and loves to talk about science and drug discovery even when he’s not at work. Just ask his family, who can define a “structure-based drug design strategy” in between innings at a baseball game. Because Vinnie believes science shouldn’t be stuffy. It should be full of creativity and thoughtfulness and getting to answers in a way no one ever thought of before.
Tell us the story of how you fell in love with science.
As a kid, I was fascinated by fossils, anthropology, archeology, zoology and astronomy. When I was 10 years old, I met Richard Leaky and Jane Goodall and from there I was hooked. I took lots of classes at the Natural History Museum in Cleveland with my dad throughout my childhood.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Up until my second year of college I figured I would go somewhere in natural sciences, ecology, zoology or maybe become a veterinarian, but the plan changed when I took organic chemistry with a professor who changed my life - Hilton Weiss at Bard College. He taught me to think and reason in a way that was transformational and gave me the confidence I never thought I could have. That is when I started to shift toward chemistry and biochemistry, steering me toward what I do today at AbbVie.
If we were to ask your family what it is that you do, what would they say?
He helps make drugs that help people. Most of them even know the term structure-based drug design.