Story in the College of Arts & Sciences
Tracy Matray '91
Associate chemistry director studies DNA strands to relieve people of hay fever and allergies.
Dr. Tracy Matray is working to help people breathe easier. As an associate director of chemistry at Dynavax Technologies, he's developing treatments for hay fever and other allergies. His is one major project at the international biotechnology company, where scientists are also researching remedies for Hepatitis B, lymphoma, and asthma.
Matray's work uses short strands of DNA made in the lab to reprogram the human immune system, so that exposure to pollen no longer causes sniffling and sneezing.
"It's exciting stuff, new stuff," he says.
As an undergraduate, Matray interned at IBM, and continued in a part-time position at the company during his senior year. The workload ended up becoming a problem for him.
"I basically became overwhelmed," he says. "I went to the chair of the chemistry department, and he was able to enable me to back off a little bit. I was still able to get the experience in industry that would be valuable down the line."
At a larger school, Matray might have gotten waylaid by his own ambitious efforts. But at Santa Clara, he found help—and encouragement to continue on with his goal to earn a doctorate.
Matray says this personal attention and customized problem-solving reflects the general approach at Santa Clara. "Professors look at each individual," he says. "That paved the career path for me."