The NICHD Connection

Letter from the Editor: June 2024

Fourteen years ago this month, we released the first issue of The NICHD Connection. That June marked the beginning of a publication that has connected hundreds of NICHD fellows, showcased remarkable research and career achievements, and even changed lives—including mine. Through this newsletter, I have met countless investigators and trainees who inspire me every day to share the extraordinary work of NIH scientists.

Now, with immense gratitude for my experiences as Editor in Chief of The NICHD Connection, I am proceeding to the next step in my career journey and joining the National Cancer Institute. There, I will continue to report on the amazing work of NIH-supported scientists. But before I sign off for a final time, I’d like to share the story of how this publication helped me build a fulfilling career in science communication.

For those of you who don’t know my NICHD beginnings, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Ajay Chitnis, Ph.D., from 2009 to 2010. Like many of you, I wasn’t firmly attached to any one career path, but I knew that moving every few years as the spouse of an Air Force officer would impose a few constraints on my choices. Thankfully, I couldn’t have asked for a better, more supportive environment than the Chitnis lab to explore potential options.

One option that lingered in my thoughts was a career in science communication. Throughout my graduate and postdoctoral work, I had always enjoyed the challenge of explaining an idea or research result to people with varying levels of scientific backgrounds. And even more exciting was trying to explain the importance of the work in a way that would resonate with the audience.

The persistence of this desire drove me to seek out writing opportunities as a fellow, and eventually to creating this newsletter. From the first issue, I knew immediately that I was on to something. I found myself wishing that I could spend more time immersed in science writing—and that I did.

Over time, my writing experiences with The NICHD Connection snowballed into a thriving freelance career. This newsletter spawned nearly a decade and a half of career exploration—not only for me but also for the hundreds of fellows who have contributed to and read this publication.

I want to end my final Letter from the Editor with a thank you to all NICHD staff and fellows, both past and present, who lent their support and voices to grow this newsletter into what it is today. Thank you, with sincere appreciation, for allowing me to share in this wonderful community for so long. I have no doubt that each of you has a bright future ahead, and I look forward to reading all about it.

For one last time, your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D.   

This newsletter is for NICHD fellows and by NICHD fellows. We want to hear from you! Please send your questions, comments, and ideas to the NICHD Office of Education Director, Dr. Megan Bohn, at