James McCracken is Making a Difference Where He Never Expected to Be

Posted by Monica Hoel
Dr. James McCracken spent years in scientific laboratories completing his post grad work, and most people figured he was headed for teaching or research. But as it turns out, it was the hardware in those labs that really caught his imagination.

After completing his degree in microbiology and immunology, he decided that he wasn’t that excited about the “assumed path.” So he finds himself now at Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, a company that produces equipment for biomedical research, reagents for testing, and in vitro diagnostic equipment.

He is particularly familiar with something called a flow cytrometer – a specialized piece of equipment that allows researchers and diagnosticians to identify and evaluate specific blood cells. This instrument is currently playing a large role in Covid research, and, in fact, there is a large group of researchers in Italy led by Dr. Andrea Cossarizza who are using it to research the Covid immune response to determine who is likely to recover and who is likely to decline.

James says there is a flow cytrometer on every continent in the world except for Antarctica, and part of his job is to travel to the user and help explain and demonstrate how the instrument works, as well as look for areas where new capabilities or hardware could solve research problems. Beckman Coulter’s corporate motto is “Helping Realize Life’s Potential,” and James says he is consistently proud to find out how these very special instruments are creating opportunities for research breakthroughs and improvements in health care.

James had considered medicine, patent law, teaching, and research, and he now finds himself in an entirely unexpected career where his work, ironically, touches on a bit of all those areas. The fact that his work is literally on a world stage and may be moving us toward answers during a pandemic is cause to realize that getting off that “assumed path” was the best move he could have made.

You can enjoy a conversation with James in the archives of WEHC-FM interviews.

  • James McCracken, E&H Class of 1999.
  • Dr. Steven Hopp teaches in the environmental studies program at Emory & Henry.

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