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2019 Speakers for the Preparing for Science-Based Non-Traditional Careers Course

September 25 - Andrew Ritcheson

Specialist Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Topic: “A Random Walk through Scientific Consulting"

Dr. Ritcheson (PhD, CPSYCHOL, AFBPsS, PMP) is an experienced strategy, operations, healthcare, and information technology consultant.  As a career interdisciplinarian, he has a successful track record bridging multiple professional disciplines, and blending clinical and scientific skills, insight and methodologies with disciplined leadership, consulting, coaching and business practices.   He is an operations transformation leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, whose work includes leading transformation initiatives for the National Institutes of Health and non-profit organizations; bringing to market tools and technologies to help clients more effectively understand and optimize their people, culture, organizations, and prepare for the future of work; and supporting better health outcomes by using interdisciplinary frameworks to meaningfully combine multiple perspectives and deliver enhanced value, solutions, and innovation.  He is an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University’s Department of Health Administration teaching Health Informatics.

  • My journey from clinician to consultant
  • The consulting ecosystem
  • Consulting pathways for scientists 

October 2 - Alain Silk, PhD

Diabetes Diagnostic Devices Branch ChiefDivision of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices, CDRH, FDA

Title: “Careers in Regulation of Medical Devices at FDA"

Dr. Alain Silk is a medical device regulatory professional working on behalf of the American people to protect and promote the public health. Alain is committed to ensuring timely patient access to high-quality medical devices and has seen first-hand the added value of regulation in assuring medical device safety and effectiveness. Alain received his Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego, conducted post-doctoral training in the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, and has held teaching appointments in the Biology departments of both Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR) and American University (Washington, D.C.).

Alain brings his broad research and teaching background to his current role at the US Food and Drug Administration. Since joining FDA in early 2014 he has reviewed pre-market submissions and worked on post-market issues related to in vitro diagnostic devices. He is currently serving as Branch Chief for Diabetes Diagnostic Devices as a member of the Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Topics to be covered:

  • role of FDA in medical device regulation
  • day-to-day work and responsibilities of a regulator
  • my career path as a scientist how that brought me to FDA

October 9 - Ashwin Kulkarni, MS

Lead Analyst, BioHealth Innovation, INC
Arlington, VA

Title: “Academia to Startup"

Mr. Kulkarni has operated in multi-faceted roles to guide and build life science companies at various stages of development, contributing to several successful funding efforts. As an Associate at BioHealth Innovation, he has functioned as an “entrepreneur on the ground” for over a dozen companies, being intimately involved in day to day business development activities. He is also the COO of miRecule, a pre-clinical cancer therapeutics company.


  • Best practices for communicating value throughout the job search and interview process
  • Leveraging your experiences in academia to develop the skills to succeed in industry
  • Developing intangible skillsets to for success in industry jobs

October 16 - Tiffany Wallace, PhD

Program Director, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, NCI

Title: "Extramural Program Positions: Insights on the culture, responsibilities and general pros and cons"

Dr. Wallace is a Program Director at the NCI within the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD).  In this role, she works to coordinate and strengthen NCI’s overall cancer health disparity research portfolio, encompassing basic, clinical, translational, and population-based research. Additionally, Dr. Wallace oversees a portfolio of grant mechanisms promoting basic/translational cancer research and develops initiatives to stimulate research in under-funded areas.

Prior to joining the CRCHD, Dr. Wallace was an Oncology Scientist at Human Genome Sciences where she managed clinically relevant research programs and conducted preclinical development of promising cancer therapeutics.

Dr. Wallace received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. She completed her postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis at NCI, where she conducted basic and translational research to identify biomarkers of aggressive prostate and breast cancer.

Talking points for her talk:

  • Description of Health Scientist Administrator (Program Director) position including personal insights on culture, work expectations, and general pro and cons.
  • Comparing a research position in industry with an administrative role in government.  Which career path is the right choice for you?

October 23 - Brandy Heckman-Stoddard, PhD, MPH

Program Director, Division of Cancer Prevention, NCI

Title: “Navigating USA Jobs"

Dr. Heckman-Stoddard received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine focusing on the intersection of Rho and IGF signaling in mammary gland development and breast cancer before joining the National Cancer Institute as a Cancer Prevention Fellow. During the fellowship she completed a Master's in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health working with the Institute for Global Tobacco Control and the Evidence-Based Practice Center. During her time at NCI as a fellow, she focused on breast cancer prevention research including preclinical development and early clinical trials.

Dr. Heckman-Stoddard's research focuses on drug development for breast cancer prevention and biomarker development. She is particularly interested in local delivery of agents, alternate dosing strategies, biomarkers of efficacy to reduce the number needed to treat and targeting of stem cells. She serves as program director for the Early Phase Breast Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials grants portfolio and scientific monitor of early phase breast cancer clinical trials within the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention Early Phase Prevention Consortia. Dr. Heckman-Stoddard is also the NCI lead for an NCI-NIDDK collaboration examining cancer incidence within the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study a randomized study of metformin, lifestyle intervention, versus placebo.

Topics to be covered:

  • applying to USA Jobs
  • how to find keywords and tailor your resume

October 30 - Jeanelle Spencer, PhD

Senior Medical Writer, Ashfield Healthcare Communications

Title: “Careers in Medical Education”

Jeanelle Spencer grew up in New Orleans, LA. In 2003 she graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from Howard University in Washington, DC. She then joined the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. There in the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics she conducted research on mobile genetic elements called transposons in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Craig. After earning the PhD in 2011, she started postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute in the Molecular Oncology and Gene Transfer Section. Her research focused on developing gene therapy strategies for hematologic malignancies. During her postdoctoral training, she wrote for the NIH Intramural Research Program blog and worked as a consultant with the Center for Advancing Innovation. Dr. Spencer left bench research to provide scientific and instructional design expertise and engage with clinician subject matter experts in the design, development and dissemination of certified medical educational (CME) activities at Rockpointe Corporation in Columbia, MD. She continued to advance medical education across platforms and to different target audiences for several years before accepting new challenges in promotional education. Currently, Dr. Spencer strives to solve healthcare challenges and improve patient outcomes through work in promotional medical education, publications and medical affairs at Ashfield Healthcare Communications, a global leader in commercialization services for the healthcare industry. 

Topics to be covered:

  • medical education (CME and promotional)
  • qualifications and soft skills required for success
  • typical day in the role
  • opportunities for advancement

November 6 - Pamela Gallagher, PhD

Staff Fellow, Division of Molecular Genetics and Pathology, CDRH, FDA

Title: Details to be added later.

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