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Army Maj. Sharrow serves nation as biochemist

January 20, 2012

Photo by Christina Graber, U.S. Army Public Health Command - St. Marys native, biochemist and U.S. Army Maj. Keith Sharrow, selects glassware for a chemical preparation method.

As a biochemist in the United States Army, St. Marys native Maj. Keith Sharrow enjoys working on diverse projects.
"The aspect of my career that I enjoy the most is that I have the opportunity to do a variety of different jobs," Sharrow said. "In the past eight years, I have conducted head trauma research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, run a field-mobile chemical analysis lab, and run two different sections within the largest environmental analysis laboratory within the U.S. Army. I have been able to do all these different jobs while progressing in my career.
"I never get bored in my job and am always learning new things and also seeing how skills and techniques I have learned in previous assignments can affect improvements at my current job."
Sharrow said his career path was influenced by various instructor-mentors along the way.
"I graduated from SMAHS in 1992, where my chemistry teacher, Mr. Pavlock, really sparked my interest in the sciences. I graduated from Clarion University with a B.S. in Molecular Biology. While at Clarion, my advisor, Dr. Douglas Smith, was very influential in my going on to graduate school," Sharrow said.
"I completed my Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Kentucky Medical Center under the direction of Dr. Thomas Foster."
Sharrow, who lives with his wife in Pikesville, Md., said he enjoys what he does most when he gets a chance to see how his efforts have made a positive impact.
"Some of the greatest rewards of my career have been to see the results of my work," Sharrow said. "For example, I led a team of senior analytical chemists in development of a novel method for measuring oil dispersant chemicals in seafood products. This effort was in support of remediation efforts for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This technique has now been accepted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a standard technique for measuring these chemicals in seafood products in the screening of food supplies for the American people."
Sharrow said another opportunity to make a difference came when he deployed to Japan in the spring of 2011 in support of Operation Tomodachi, the relief efforts in response to the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan in March 2011.
"I coordinated the food and water chemistry lab support for the food safety mission spearheaded by Army veterinarians, which ensured the food quality for Department of Defense (DoD) facilities in the country of Japan, helping to protect the health of DoD servicemembers, civilians, and dependents in that country," Sharrow said.
His latest professional accomplishment and an individual recognition that Sharrow said he is "really excited about" is being selected to attend the U.S. Army Clinical Pharmacology Fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
"This is a fully-funded, two-year program that will train me in the design and execution of drug development programs that lead to FDA approval of drugs and drug products developed within DoD research programs," Sharrow said. "After the fellowship, I will take the American Board of Clinical Pharmacology certification exam. This is one of only eight accredited programs in the nation."
Sharrow said he and his wife visit St. Marys, where his parents and one of his brothers reside, several times a year for holidays and family events such as birthdays, and they enjoy visiting with family and friends. Sharrow also has a brother who lives in Erie and a sister in Franklinton, N.C.
In addition to his military career, Sharrow also enjoys keeping fit and has expanded this interest over the past few years by becoming involved in an intense program.
"One passion of mine is coaching CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity," Sharrow said. "CrossFit Endurance is a training paradigm based on CrossFit principles, used to train athletes for marathons, ultra-marathons, and triathlons."
Sharrow said he was introduced to CrossFit in early 2008 and has been "crossfitting" ever since then.
"I received my certifications in CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance this past year and have been involved in developing programs at two different facilities in the Baltimore area, as well as personally coaching several individuals for marathons and ultra-marathons,"he said.

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