Alumni Profile: Joan Dembinski

Alumni Profiles is an ongoing series highlighting successful graduates who, with a SUNY education, achieved interesting and influential careers.

Joan Dembinski, Schenectady County CCMs. Dembinski grew up and continues to reside in Albany, New York.  She attended Albany Academy for Girls and graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Zoology.  She spent 30 years at Sterling Winthrop Research Institute evaluating investigational medicines for heart failure and diabetes in humans.  She also spent 20 years at Omnicare Clinical Research as project director.

After 50 years in medical research, Ms. Dembinski decided to pursue her love of cooking by enrolling in Schenectady County Community College‘s culinary program.  She graduated at the top of her culinary class and currently works in the kitchen at Yonos Restaurant whipping up homemade breads and pastries, much to the delight of the customers and staff.

Ms. Dembinski is a sliver medal contest winner of the American Culinary Federations Annual Competition Classic held at Schenectady Community College and was on the team that won a Gold Medal at the Knowledge Bowl ACF Competition held in Hershey, PA.

Ms. Dembinski continues to travel, volunteer at the Equinox Thanksgiving Event and Honest Weight Food Co-Op.  This past January, Ms. Joan Dembinski was the subject of a resolution adopted by the New York State Senate for her designation as recipient of the 2012 Arts and Culture Award by Senior Services of Albany.

J74-2013: Honoring Joan Dembinski upon the occasion of her designation as recipient of the 2012 Arts and Culture Award by Senior Services of Albany

Click to read Ms. Dembinski’s Legislative Resolution

Looking back at fifty years in the field, what was the most exciting part of your medical research?

Working with teams of dedicated investigators and their staff in the US, Canada and Europe was most rewarding.  Specifically, though, having Toprol XL approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in congestive heart failure, writing three New Drug Applications, and receiving the Food and Drug Administration’s approval for three investigational medications for orphan indications were very fulfilling, also!

What is the draw of culinary arts?

Initially, I was inspired to provide nutritional education to medically compromised subjects and this quest has now expanded to the effort to provide nutritional breakfasts and lunches to our school children.

Every recipe is a challenge with regard to making it taste better… Experimenting with natural ingredients and pushing the discovery to a new level is very exciting!

Where did you see your career ending up before you attended Mount Holyoke College, and where do you see it now?

55 years ago, I wanted to be a surgeon.

Working in the preclinical arena in the investigational research arena did indeed satisfy that dream.  My love for research was kindled at Mount Holyoke College and was nourished by 50 years in the pharmaceutical industry.  Preclinical research led to my 24/7 involvement in clinical research and approval of a number of medications in use today.

How did college prepare you for life and what advice can you offer to current SUNY students?

Actually, my parents prepared me for life by enabling me to make decisions and carry them through.  College and industry guided me in proving the fundamentals to make educated decisions.  It takes courage to meet challenges and I am thankful to all that have contributed to my continuing learning process.

To SUNY students: Learn something new each day. Do not doubt yourself… Do your very best and understand the past but create your future and go where you are wanted and appreciated.

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Maxwell Morgan

Author: Maxwell Morgan

Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for the State University of New York.

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