Employee Highlight: Ildiko Toth

Employee Highlight: Ildiko Toth

Nov 03

The expressed goal of the Ragon Insitute is lofty: to harness the immune system to prevent and cure human disease.  But behind every principal investigator publishing a new finding is a team of support staff enabling their research.  In the offices, administrative assistants, regulatory staff, and grant administrators manage the office, monitor funding, and ensure that IRB protocols are strictly followed.  In the laboratory, research technicians are not only preparing for future scientific careers, they also perform laboratory work crucial to the research of principal investigators.


Therefore, we are pleased to present interviews with these support staff, to learn more about them and the important role that they play at the Ragon Institute.


Today we talk with Ildiko Toth, Ph.D., Manager of the Ragon Institute Processing Lab.


Where are you originally from, Ildiko?

I was born in Szeged, Hungary a very nice university town. This is where I attended the university and met my husband. I got my Master and Ph.D. there and worked at the Biochemistry Department. Before coming to the USA in 1984, we lived and worked in Basel Switzerland. We have been in the USA 30 years.


How long have you been at Ragon? What changes have you seen?

I joined Ragon Institute in July 29 2006 after working at Quest Diagnostics as Manager of the Hematology Department. Previously I worked at BWH and Harvard as Instructor in Medicine but unfortunately lost grant support. Therefore from scientist I became a manager. In 2006 we worked in Charlestown that I like very much; mostly the pleasant walks from the North Station to the AIDS Research Institute. We created a new Processing Lab there that was small but cozy. I liked being here and seeing the many talented and motivated young people coming, working hard and later going away to graduate programs, industry or setting up his/her lab. I like the colorful international atmosphere here.


What do you do at Ragon? What is a typical day like?

As manager of the Processing Lab I oversee blood processing, freezing samples and sample distributions. I spend almost a half day with data entry into Cellular Immunology Database (CIDB), quality control and trouble shooting. I try to read articles related to AIDS/HIV and hematology.


What got you interested in science?

I am an animal lover and have green thumb. I always had dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs snakes, frog, fish, even a pet spider. Therefore, I was interested in science from the very early ages. I was lucky because my parents tolerated my experiments. I attended a special high school where biology and chemistry were offered at higher level. Being here at the Ragon Institute is a fantastic opportunity to work with scientists, attend super in-house meetings. In my “previous life as a scientist” I really enjoyed attending big conferences.


If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be doing?

I love to travel, visiting new places and meeting with people of different background. But even if I had a chance to start over I would choose science. I would go to medical school and train to be an infectious disease doctor. Most probably I would do some volunteer work in Africa.


What is your favorite place in Boston/Cambridge to spend time?

When we arrived to Boston we spent almost every weekend downtown and something always happened. I liked the Boston Common and the Harvard square areas although it changed a lot (no more bookstores). My favorite restaurant was the Cafe Budapest (closed). We like to try new places in Boston and the suburb. I like Margarita in Lexington, Tango in Arlington and Il Casale in Belmont my home town.