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2020 Speakers for the Preparing for Science-Based Non-Traditional Careers Course

September 16 - Tiffany Wallace, Ph.D.

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:

  • 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?

September 23 - Patricia Escobar, Ph.D. 

Director, Genetic Toxicology, Merck & Co., Inc., West Point, PA

Title: “Career Journey from Academia to Industry”

Dr. Escobar is a Director in Genetic Toxicology at Merck Research Laboratories, where she is the manager and scientific leader of the genetic toxicology group, responsible for screening and bringing forward the best candidates from Discovery, for the GLP regulatory genotoxicity testing, and for developing follow-up strategies and application of new technologies for screening and mechanistic assessments.  She also plays a key role in the collaborative strategy with drug synthesis groups for control of potential mutagenic impurities.  Dr. Escobar received her B.Sc. in Microbiology, her M.Sc. in genetic toxicology from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá Colombia, and her Ph.D. in Molecular Toxicology from the University of Pittsburgh. She then completed her postdoctoral training in the Gene & Environment Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley. Following her post-doc, Dr. Escobar worked at BioReliance as a Genetic Toxicology Study Director. In 2008, Dr. Escobar joined Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, as a Principal Scientist in the Nonclinical Drug Safety group, where she had a series of increased responsibility roles managing and leading the predictive toxicology group, while also serving as the genetic toxicology scientific lead for this group and as a toxicologist in drug discovery teams. Dr. Escobar has been involved in the International Working Groups on Genetic Toxicology (IWGT) and in the Expert Working Group of the OECD In vivo Mammalian Alkaline Comet Assay and Bacterial Reverse Mutation testing guideline. Dr. Escobar is author/co-author of more than 15 publications including peer-reviewed articles and/or book chapters. Dr. Escobar is a former board chair and member of the Genetic Toxicology Association (GTA) and was also a council officer in the Northeast Chapter of the Society of Toxicology.  She is currently chairing the New Technology special interest group (SIG) in the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS), and she is the Chair of the Alexander Hollander Committee. Dr. Escobar has also participated as EMGS council member, program committee member, and co-chair of the Applied Genetic toxicology SIG.

September 30 - Prasun J. Mishra,  Ph.D.

Founder, Precision BioPharma Inc., Agility Pharmaceuticals; MetaImmune Inc. and President, American Association for Precision Medicine

Title: “Industry Careers and the Silicon Valley Model of Entrepreneurship”

Dr. Mishra (Ex-Genentech, Ex-NCI, Ex-NIH) is the founding president and CEO of American Association for Precision Medicine (AAPM) and chair of ACT: AAPM Coronavirus Taskforce, leading research efforts focused on preventing and curing COVID-19, cancer, and other chronic diseases; not only treating the sick but also providing knowledge/tools to individuals to live longer, healthier lives. He is a serial entrepreneur who founded his first company after graduating high school, and second company while earning his PhD. Since then, he has accumulated a wealth of experience by building, investing, and advising numerous companies. He is an investor, co-founder/board member of a few corporations, focused on accelerating drug discovery/development, data-analytics, robotics, mental health, and digital health.

Widely recognized as a Technology and Healthcare thought leader, Dr. Mishra has keynoted, chaired, and organized numerous successful international conferences. His research work has been recognized globally by over 40 prestigious awards and honors. More recently, he has been  highlighted by Thrive Global and Authority Magazine as a Social Impact Hero. Dr. Mishra also served as a Scientist and Principal Investigator at Genentech, Roche. Moreover, his passion for drug development and precision medicine has led to identification of new drug targets, biomarkers, companion diagnostics, and several drugs/ combinations in the clinic. Due to his unique perspective and selfless service, he is a highly respected and sought-after mentor to many.

October 7 - Ester Fernandez-Salas, Ph.D.

Senior Principal Investigator/Associate Director, Bristol Myer Squibb, NY

Title: “Moving from academia to industry: Facts and Fiction”

Ester Fernandez-Salas is a Sr. Principal Scientist in the Oncology team at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Redwood City, CA where she is leading several small molecule drug discovery programs. Her team is also identifying and validating tumor targets that confer resistance to immune therapy for novel IO combinations. Ester received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry and cell biology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) studying biomarkers for pancreatic cancer. After graduation, she was awarded a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship to develop animal models for pancreatic cancer at the Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Ester continued her postdoctoral studies as a Fogarty Fellow at the Laboratory of Cellular Carcinogenesis and Tumor Promotion at the NCI. She studied genes regulated by p53 and TNF-alpha that contributed to skin carcinogenesis. Ester joined Allergan Pharmaceuticals in 2000 where she led a team elucidating the mechanism of action of botulinum neurotoxins in several diseases and the development of cell-based assays to replace the mouse lethality assay for product release.  She reached the rank of Senior Director at Allergan being part of the leadership team in the Department of Biological Sciences. In 2013, Ester moved to the University of Michigan to establish a new center for drug discovery, the Michigan Center for Therapeutic Innovation where she worked in several projects related to PROTAC degraders as therapeutics for cancer. Ester joined BMS’ cancer genetics team in 2018 to continue to pursue her passion to bring novel therapeutics to cancer patients.

October 14 - Cedric Cagliero, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist Discover, Jecho Laboratories

Title: “Transition from academia to a biopharma startup”

Cedric has spent the past 6 years at Jecho Laboratories combining his expertise in molecular biology and protein engineering to develop an antibody discovery platform and led the development of mono and multi-specific antibody-based therapeutics. He has recently received the title of foreign expert in China and was awarded with a Tianjin Haihe friendship award for his active part in Tianjin’s development. Prior to Jecho Laboratories, he has been a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Ding Jun Jin laboratory at the National Cancer Institute, NIH where he studied bacterial chromosome organization, gene regulation and global stress response. He received his PhD in genetic from the National Institute for Agronomic Research in France.

October 21 - Carole Sourbier, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator, Center for Drug Evaluation (CDER), FDA

Title: "Research in a regulatory agency: the researcher/reviewer model at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), FDA"

Dr. Carole Sourbier is a principal investigator with the Office of Biotechnology Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA since 2017. She received her Ph.D. from the Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France, and then joined the National Cancer Institute, NIH, as fellow in 2007. While at NCI, she became a staff scientist and led multiple translational research projects related to aberrant metabolic processes. At FDA, in addition to her regulatory duties, Dr. Sourbier is leading a research group that investigates how to evaluate and compare the quality of products, with a focus on metabolism and metabolic bioassays.

October 28 - Bethanie Lee, Ph.D. 

Microbiologist, Division of Microbiology Assessment, Office of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Assessment, Office of Pharmaceutical Quality, CDER, FDA

Title: “Role of a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Reviewer at the U.S. FDA”

Dr. Lee received her Ph.D. in Molecular Pathobiology from the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine in 2009 and completed NCI postdoctoral fellowships in 2015. Prior to FDA, she spent three years as a Scientific Manager for Leidos, supporting the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. Dr. Lee began her work as a review microbiologist at FDA in 2018. In her current role, she reviews IND, NDA, and ANDA drug applications with expertise on microbial control, sterility assurance, microbial product quality, manufacturing process and facilities data review for the pharmaceutical manufacturing of small molecule drugs. This broad review scope includes, but is certainly not limited to, evaluating the potential sterility assurance aspects of investigational drugs to support clinical trials, deciding if a manufacturing facility is capable of properly performing the tasks required for the manufacture of a safe and effective marketing drug, and communicating with industry representatives to provide advice and guidance regarding manufacturing process development.

November 4 - Mike Nerenberg, M.D. 

Chief Medical Officer, Alamar Biosciences, San Diego, CA

Title: “A Journey through the Diagnostics Sector.”

Mike Nerenberg is Chief Medical Officer at Alamar Biosciences, a Bay Area company that develops ultrasensitive immunodetection products for the early detection of cancer from liquid biopsies.  Prior to this, Dr Nerenberg was Founder, President, Chief Scientific Officer, or Head of Research and Development for 6 medical diagnostic/biotech companies in Southern California. Two of these companies were taken public and two were acquired.  His longest tenure was at Genoptix, where he developed the business model and helped grow the team from 10 to over 750 employees prior to its acquisition by Novartis for $475 M.  He is author of greater than 50 peer reviewed publications and 18 patents. Dr Nerenberg graduated from Yale Medical School and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, He was a postdoc at the NCI and also served as faculty at the Scripps Research Institute prior to entering industry.

November 11 - Brandy Heckman-Stoddard, Ph.D., M.P.H.

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

November 18 - Ian McWilliams, Ph.D.

Staff Fellow, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA

Title: "From research to regulatory: using science to ensure the safety and efficacy of drugs"

Ian completed his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Pennsylvania State University (University Park) in 2008 and PhD in Immunology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015. His PhD thesis work focused on immune cell transcription factors in autoimmune Multiple Sclerosis. Ian joined the NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a CRTA postdoctoral fellow in 2015 and continued work on autoimmune diseases focusing on micro RNAs and disease associated single nucleotide polymorphisms. In 2016, Ian joined FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) as an ORISE postdoctoral fellow where his work focused on developing BSL-2 Zika and Ebola models of viral infection to test therapeutic potency. Ian transitioned from bench research to a full-time regulatory position in 2019 when he joined CDER’s Office of Biotechnology Products (OBP) as a product quality reviewer.

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