David Shearer: A Vision for Change
OLD SAYBROOK - As a medical doctor long involved in clinical research, Dr. David Shearer wants through his foundation to help those individuals whom big pharma has abandoned. As a town volunteer, he hopes to apply his creative energy to crafting realistic plans whose implementation over time will help improve the town he loves.
It took David and his wife many weekend trips to Connecticut before they found the town they decided to make their home: Old Saybrook.
"The first thing I did [when arriving in town] was register to vote and go to meet the first selectman to ask how to help," says David.
Helping in town government for David followed two paths: one, based on his medical degree, led him to an appointment to the Board of the Connecticut River Area Health District.
"I hope to spur a movement forward to increase health education and awareness within the town," says David.
The second path, based on his interest in helping to guide his new hometown's future, was to serve on town land use bodies.
His first appointment was to the town's Zoning Commission, but within a year he switched to fill an opening instead on the Planning Commission. This engagement in town planning led to his eagerness to serve when asked as chairman of the Selectmen's Route 1 East Study Committee.
This committee's charge was to create a realistic vision that would stimulate economic redevelopment of the corridor from the train station to Ferry Point.
Last week the committee presented to the Board of Selectmen the results of its year-long investigation as summarized in a plan document called Mariner's Way: A vision to improve the Route 1 connector between Saybrook Junction's Town Center and Ferry Point's Marina District.
Recommendations in the plan address many topics. One is that the economic development of this district is distinct from other areas of town and deserves a branding that links and identifies its characteristics. Other recommendations address issues like economic redevelopment, zoning changes, transportation improvements, landscaping, building patterns, and creating transitions to Town Center and the marina districts.
Serving on the committee were David, Tony Lyons, Barbara D'Agostino, Kristen Roberts, Torrance Downes, Casey Constable, Eileen Baker, and James Keating, with support from the town's Land Use Department staff: Chris Costa, Sandy Prisloe, and Christine Nelson.
"Right now, this area of Route 1 has properties that aren't necessarily visually appealing. This plan is a concept for redevelopment of the corridor's commercial area to complement the Main Street Business District," David explains. "Each page [in the plan] received consensus from the group.
"I'm interested in making a difference in my community. This has been a great chance to work with a fabulous committee," he continues. "I hope this can result in a truly positive impact."
With this project now behind him, David can return to his career in clinical science research, a career that began with stroke research at the Cleveland Clinic and continued with diabetes research at Smith Kline Beecham.
More recently, David has used his experience with clinical trials and research to found his own consulting company, Health Sciences International, to assist pharmaceutical companies with clinical trial work.
"It allowed me to get to the highlight of my career 16 months ago: setting up the Therapeutic Research Foundation to solve unmet health care needs, those needs abandoned or considered unprofitable by commercial pharma," explains David.
One project the foundation is working on uses SMART technology to help the blind and visually impaired have more spatial awareness of their surroundings to make them more productive and safer. A second project is developing a new diagnostic test for Lyme disease using DNA sequencing techniques. He's working with the Centers for Disease Control to evaluate sample kits of Lyme now.
"At the foundation, we're looking toward obtaining proposals from entrepreneurs, academics and industry for ideas and collaborative efforts," says David. "My goal is to help as many people as possible, those need it the most."
David loves to be busy, whether with work or volunteer projects, but still finds time for some personal pursuits. In 2011, he trained for and competed in his first sprint triathlon. And in his limited free time, he also plays piano and paints with oils for his own enjoyment.
"I'm a high-energy guy that likes to channel it into challenging projects, whether in my work or in my community," says David.