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Having worked with a team of scientists and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in helping identify the deadly Ebola virus and researching other viruses prevalent in Africa, former immunologist Nicholas Zachariades is now using his skills in the legal arena. A native of Zimbabwe, 42-year-old Zachariades has entered the next phase of his professional life working as a technology specialist for Edwards & Angell, which has offices in Boston and Providence, R.I., and finishing his third year at New England School of Law. While writing patents for Edwards & Angell’s intellectual property group, Zachariades successfully balances family, work and law school, and says the most important thing is setting priorities. “The difficult part is the balancing. I meet all my billable hours, and in the summer I make up the hours at school, and I find weekends are the best time to study,” says the married father of one. “Priorities move up and down on a daily basis and you have to move with them.” Zachariades’ experiences are vast in knowledge and skill. Having received his undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Kansas, he attended Emory University School of Medicine to pursue and eventually earn in 1990 his Ph.D. in immunology. After writing his own grants and completing research assignments at Stanford University School of Medicine, he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he spent most of his time in the National Institute for Virology biohazard lab conducting tests on the Ebola virus. Ebola is one of the most dangerous viruses, causing a victim to die from so-called hemorrhagic fever as major organs collapse and blood wells from every opening in the body. Along with the other scientists, Zachariades diagnosed, isolated and researched the outbreak of the virus in 1995 in Zaire. Much of his work involved cellular immune responses to vaccines. He and fellow scientists tested and studied blood from patients infected with Ebola. He later returned to the U.S. in 1999 for post-doctorate work in vaccinology at Harvard Medical School. Zachariades says he became interested in intellectual property work about two years ago “because it covers a lot of subjects and there is a wide range of scientific discipline that I can use.” “With science, you always end up focusing on one small, specific problem and you can look at one molecule for years,” says Zachariades. “With [law], you hear other peoples’ thoughts and build on those. It’s a think tank and it’s exciting and that’s what I like.” Zachariades’ work in patent law correlates with his background in science, especially when servicing clients, according to Peter F. Corless, a partner in Edwards & Angell’s intellectual property group. “The IP group services the type of clients we have in the patent group, and we do patent work for many clients that have technical areas in which Nick has his Ph.D.,” Corless says. While some might say that science and law are opposite ends of the spectrum, Zachariades finds the differences between the two fields a comfortable adjustment. “I’m learning to tune in and think more as a lawyer and less as a scientist,” says Zachariades. “In law you have to take a step back and think of 100 different things while writing a patent — it’s becoming much easier for me to think of those things. I find it quite funny. As a scientist you close yourself away, and here you are exposed to clients and you expose yourself.” Many employees at E&A attend law school at night, but it takes a level of professionalism and dedication to manage a family, career and work in one day, according to Corless. “We have a number of people who have significant tech backgrounds and are going to school at night,” Corless says. “It takes a different kind of person and with Nick you have a different look at a person — this is somewhat of a second career — added to his professional maturity.” At home, he is dad to 6-year-old Natasha, who is “very lively and very inquisitive.” His wife, Adrianna, is a computer programmer at AOL/Time Warner. As a scientist, entering the legal field is a step in a different direction with few navigational devices. But connecting with clients and hearing their feedback makes the transition better, he says. “When I first started out in law I had no point of reference, so I didn’t know if I was doing well. It was like being a ship out at night with no stars to navigate,” he says. “However, when you speak to clients and they realize you speak the language and can offer them advice and help, they realize they can trust you and work with you.” For someone who opened his own lab in South Africa to study cellular immune responses in children born to HIV-infected mothers — and co-authored such publications as “Emerging Infectious Diseases” — one might think law school is no challenge. But Zachariades says he is still learning. “Ph.D. is not a structured program like law school. In law school, class and attendance are mandatory, and I’m closing my eyes and going with the flow,” Zachariades says. “I’m done with law school in May 2003, and then I will take the bar and continue with what I’m doing as an associate here. And then I’m definitely done with school.”

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