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Dustin McElhattan addresses graduates at winter commencement 2012.

Dustin McElhattan ('09, MBA '11) came to Clarion University with medicine on his mind, but after two years of coursework and job shadowing at a local hospital, he realized that practicing medicine wasn't for him. He liked his major but didn't want to pursue medical school.

Instead, he combined his molecular biology/biotechnology bachelor's with an MBA and found a career on the business side of medicine, at the Barnes Center for Biotechnology Business Development at Clarion University.

After his fourth year of undergraduate work, McElhattan interned with University Directories in Clarion, selling ad space in the back of phone books. He learned that he liked the sales aspect of the internship and enrolled in Clarion University's MBA program.

After his first year in the program, he returned to University Directories, this time managing 14 teams across four states. In another year, he received his Master of Business Administration and took a position as district manager and salesman for Automatic Data Processing in Pittsburgh.

"My experiences as an undergraduate and during the MBA program at Clarion taught me to constantly be curious and to strive to succeed," McElhattan said.

After eight months at ADP, McElhattan received a call from Ben Legum, applied research specialist in Clarion University's Center for Applied Research and Intellectual Property Development and a faculty member from McElhattan's final semester of the MBA program.

"He called me about a position possibly opening at Clarion Research Group," McElhattan said.

McElhattan was interested in both the scope and location of the position.

"It wasn't a well defined position, but it was in the sciences and on the business side," he said. It was also closer to his Franklin home, and it brought him back to work in Clarion, which he grew to love while pursuing his degrees.

McElhattan interviewed for and was chosen as CRG's associate product manager. He started work in February 2012. He manages the Hormonal Clarity Diagnostics business unit, a clinical diagnostic laboratory that collects and analyzes saliva samples for various hormone levels. Reports are then generated which enable physicians to customize hormonal replacement therapies that are specific to each individual.

McElhattan said his favorite part of the job is helping people.

"A lot of people don't know this type of testing is out there. They're not well informed about hormone therapy," he said.

"The core of the testing comes from western Pennsylvania, but we are currently developing partnerships in the eastern part of the state as well as in Ohio," McElhattan said. "We're the only CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) salivary diagnostic laboratory in the northwest United States that we know of."

McElhattan attributes his success to his Clarion University experiences.

"(In the biology program) there was such an emphasis on details – very analytical and a lot of numbers. That helped me do well in the MBA program," he said. "That's why I like Clarion. It's the right size campus – small enough that you get personal attention, big enough that you get to meet new people. It provides room to grow. "

"The skills that I learned at Clarion have helped me successfully navigate through great stepping stones at University Directories and ADP, and ultimately end up right back where it all started – in Clarion," he said.

He and his fiancée, Joanna Bell ('09, MS '10), are engaged to be married in January.

1/7/2013 8:00 AM

The business of medicine