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Martin Hayes, Ph.D. (BA 1999, BS 1999)

The journey to a college degree sometimes deviates from the straight and narrow highway. Just ask St. Louis native and University of Missouri–St. Louis graduate Martin Hayes, whose academic path featured a significant detour.

"I had taken time off from school after a very underwhelming and forgettable freshman year at a school on the east coast," he said. "After a couple of years experiencing the real world without a college degree, I took stock of my options and realized that if I committed to my own development by going back to school, I could do a lot better in this world."

Martin soon started classes at UMSL to test his resolve through a rigorous curriculum. What started with a few classes quickly blossomed into a passion for the physical sciences, which led to two bachelor’s degrees, a PhD and two decades as a leader in the pharmaceutical industry.

Martin Hayes

“I gained a tremendous amount of practical lab experience and exposure to modern techniques with more than a year of undergraduate research at UMSL,” he said. “I often joked that because we used the same books as students at Ivy League schools there’s no reason we can’t have the same education. Over time, I think that observation has held true.”

After graduating summa cum laude in 1999 with degrees in chemistry and mathematics, Martin earned his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from MIT in 2004 before joining Abbot as a medicinal chemist in immunology therapeutics. For the past 14 years, Martin has been with AbbVie, where he currently leads strategic initiatives to deliver innovative therapies as chief of staff for global neuroscience research.

"I feel privileged to be able to create something that can transform someone’s life," Martin said. "It is truly a humbling experience to see how much work it takes to go from an idea in the lab to a medicine on the pharmacy shelves that people rely on to live a normal life."