Kirby uses his Caldwell County education every day
Dr. Lyndon Craig Kirby thinks about his teachers from Hibriten High School every now and again. Whenever he uses a skill that he learned in class, he wishes he could phone them and tell them he still remembered that from high school.
“What I do now involves a lot of writing, scientific and medical writing,” Kirby said “And, I had an English teacher, Ms. Wilson, and she made me work. I was typically a long-winded writer. She really helped me focus and be more concise, gather my thoughts, put them on paper. And that’s what you need in what I do now.”
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He also thinks of George Gross, his biology teacher. Thanks to Gross and his fun teaching methods, Kirby’s decision to work in a scientific field became concrete.
Growing up in Caldwell County, Kirby lived a low-income lifestyle on a farm, although, Kirby said, “I don’t even think you can call it a farm.”
“We had some cows, some pigs, a horse and some chickens running around. I just loved it,” Kirby said.
Kirby’s mother worked in Valmead and his father worked at Happy Valley. They gave Kirby and his sister a love for learning and, for Kirby particularly, a passion for the outdoors.
After graduating from Hibriten High School, Kirby moved on to Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. Kirby received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987 and his master’s degree in biology with a concentration on bacteriology and molecular biology from Appalachian State University in 1991.
“When I was at App State, my dream was to get a PhD, then come back to a small college somewhere in the mountains and then teach,” Kirby said. “That was originally my goal. Even back then, if you wanted to go to a university and teach, you really needed to get a PhD in biology. While you’re in school, it’s easier to stay in school. Stick it out, get the PhD, and once you get that, you can start applying and get your career going.”
But Kirby fell in love with clinical research and pursued that after getting his PhD in microbiology at East Carolina University.
“Clinical research is all about, hopefully, finding treatments and cures. I’ve never looked back. That was 1998, and I’m still doing it now,” Kirby said.
Over the years, Kirby has worked for several companies. In 1999, he worked with Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc. on HIV studies in South Africa. He joined Otsuka Maryland Research Institute to research schizophrenia, and in 2002, he worked with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, where he found a passion to help fight cancer, then moved to Quintiles Inc. in 2011 to continue his research.
“I really love what I do now. The cancer research is really booming now. There’s a lot of information. There are a lot of new techniques and therapies being tried. Here at Quintiles, I get to see that. I have more of a consultant type role. You get to see a lot of different types of therapies come across the board. Sometimes it’s really exciting,” Kirby said.
And, every day, Kirby uses what he learned at Hibriten High School and CCC&TI.
“I still come back to my education at Caldwell County. It provided a good foundation for where I’m at now. I have no complaints,” Kirby said.