Blog

Jason Riley

Jason Riley, PhD,
from his days in the Gandjbakhche lab

Jason Riley, PhD, is a chief technical officer (CTO) at Archeoptix Biomedical, a start-up company out of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Jason founded Archeoptix Biomedical to commercialize and employ his patented technology—a near infrared (NIR) device that detects bleeding in the brain. 

Jason began the research and patent process for this technology during his postdoctoral fellowship in the NICHD laboratory of Dr. Amir Gandjbakhche, where he studied bio-photonics for seven years. Like many scientific careers, Jason’s path to CTO of a start-up was not straight forward or easy. Read the Q&A session below to learn about challenges that Jason faced over the years, and the well-earned resiliency that followed.

In the spirit of our resiliency theme, can you describe your path from your first interest in science to where you are now, and any failures or obstacles you encountered along the way?

So, did I fail? Yes, a lot.

For my first degree, I completed a little over a year of biochemistry and genetics. Due to personal events, including a death in the family, being in a car wreck, and, well, being a student, I didn’t do so well. I quit for the first time. The next year I restarted with an interest in computers. My advisors thought I wouldn’t be good at computer science, so I chose electronic and electrical engineering. However, I also completed an elective in artificial intelligence, which was instructed by the guy who said I couldn’t do computers. I was top of the class…

LESSON: Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do it.

Three years later, I had earned a 1st class honors with a prize in instrumentation and control engineering.

I moved into programming for financial databases. I turned down IBM—even after they increased their offer—over a girl (actually, a good decision for reasons to do with their HR policies at the time). Turning down IBM was NOT A FAIL—although some said it was.

After that, I completed a master's at University College London in computer vision, image processing, and simulation. I got a kick in the teeth at the end: I didn’t receive a distinction, as my own advisor downgraded my project (I’m not supposed to know that). I ended up receiving an award for it, though, which funded my PhD work. I went on to complete my PhD training with that advisor for five years. It should have been three years. I nearly quit a bunch. But, I earned the PhD and moved across the Atlantic to the NIH.

After a seven-year postdoc at NIH, I moved on (a dark few months followed). Let’s be honest, there wasn’t the money to keep me in the lab, even though I was wanted. I moved to Canada. By now I am married with three kids.

I met a guy to talk about making the device that I invented at NIH. Well, he was like the third or fourth guy—we hit it off.

The rest is “history.” I’ve nearly quit several times. Start-ups require being prepared for horrible uncertainty, but my four kids are relatively happy and well-adjusted despite all that. Did I fail over the years? Yep—but without the failures, I wouldn’t be near delivering an exciting new technology to market.

During your career journey, what was your biggest obstacle, and how did you get through it?

Biggest obstacle? Myself. I am my own worst enemy: self-doubt, overconfidence (yes, I have both), and just wanting to please everyone all the time. Sometimes you can't…and you have to know when that is okay.

Did you ever feel like quitting something? 

Yes, so I mentioned before that I did quit one degree. Since then, I’ve quit a career in finance, because I wanted something more related to research. Now I’m back in industry, because, well it’s a good fit. 

In all these times, I’ve been called a failure more than once. Have I failed? Oh yes, I have. But the truth is that you must get back up. You must focus on what motivates you. 

An example is that I quit smoking when I started dating my wife. I was a 20-plus-a-day man for over a decade, and I quit literally overnight. Why? Because her mother died from lung cancer when she was 12. I found a reason, THE reason. Having one real reason to get back up is what it takes. Now it’s my boys’ future. I will always get back up. Does it sound trite, yes, but it’s true. I’d quit smoking before with many “good” reasons, but always started again, after weeks, months, and once after two years. This time I’ve been without smokes for 12 to 13 years.

What was applying for a patent like? Did you experience any failures while getting your patent granted? If so, what happened and how did it resolve?

Applying for patents is grueling. The one I worked on while at NIH has just been granted after many years. I have a few others now, and they’re also nearly complete. But the truth is, you will be asked to prove stuff that makes no sense. I once had to explain that they were literally asking me to patent a computer mouse as part of my patent. I was like, “Sure, and do I get royalties from every mouse sold after I do that? Because—SWEET!” 

There will be conversations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office where you receive vaguely related research articles, or patents that are only remotely related to yours, and you'll have to justify why your work is unique.

What has been your most important life lesson?

Hmm…probably see the smoking story above: Have one reason, the right reason to do something, and you will succeed.

If you could talk to your past self, what point in time would you pick, and what would you say?

Hey 12-year-old me! Don’t drink and do drugs. Honestly, I can think of a lot of things to say to myself at various times in my life, but that is first, closely followed by talking to me at the early days of my start-up company. “Don’t overpromise, and don’t compromise for a result to try to make the investors happy. Pick the right partners, pick the right investors, and you won’t need to.”

What are your personal dreams/goals for your future?

Finish the device, save one life, and provide for my boys. I mean, if the device saves more than one person, great! But it only needs to save one life to make the journey worth it.

For fellows who are going through hardship or perceived failure right now, what would you say to them over a cup of coffee?

In all honesty, I’d say to follow your dreams, because people will tell you they aren't real. The reality is that we will get knocked down in life and must stand back up again. It is 100% OK to fail. My darkest secret? I have been unemployed; I have been a painter/decorator; I have been an administrative assistant; I have been a laborer. I do have three degrees, and I'm still standing because I don't look back or down on those positions. They were things I had to do to get by, and some happened when I had one, two, or even three degrees. Today, I have a six figure salary; tomorrow, I may be working minimum wage.

Rep Report logoAs the current NICHD Basic Sciences Institutes and Centers (IC) Representative, I represent NICHD postdoctoral fellows at the Fellows Committee (FelCom) meeting every month and share the latest news with you here. Do you have a concern or question that you want brought up at the next meeting? Contact me at lauren.walling@nih.gov!


The March FelCom meeting had lots of good news for fellows! Firstly, the Office of Intramural Research has approved a 4% stipend increase for all fellows starting on May 1, 2021.

The new IRTA Chapter in the NIH Policy Manual has been published and includes updated information on termination and leave policies. The new policy now includes 20 days per year of excused absence with stipend for illness, personal emergencies, or vacation, which is increased from the 15 days previously included.

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) is currently preparing for their Annual Career Symposium, which will be held virtually this year on May 3–7. They are planning to bring in more than 200 speakers, including many opportunities for breakout rooms to engage with panelists. Save the date!

The new Health & Recreation Subcommittee wants to hear from you about what types of events you would be interested in. Please complete their Google form here: https://forms.gle/DshJDZSmii1okLrx7 to let them know! This subcommittee is also looking for new members. If you are interested in joining, fill out the Google form above and include your contact information.

The Training Directors Committee liaisons are organizing a Fellows Financial Wellness Seminar with Hope Madsen from the NIH Federal Credit Union. The tentative date for this seminar is April 29, but keep an eye out for more details to come!

We have been in an altered research environment for over a year, and we could all use the connection and support provided by our NICHD community. Check out several stories below from DIR investigators and trainees. You are not alone in your struggles.


“At some point in grad school, many students think they might quit and there is no possible way through. My make-or-break came at the end of my first year. My world felt like it was collapsing—mom diagnosed with cancer, older brother overdosed—oh, and somehow qualification exams were due and lab work had to be done. Many tears were shed as I leant on my network so hard that next year. Family, friends, and co-workers were all there to help lift me up. Somehow, with lots of help, supportive mentors, and strong friends, I made it through. Going through hardships is part of life, but that does not mean it is easy. However, with a strong network and support system, we can overcome even the most challenging of times.” — NICHD Trainee


“During a weekly meeting, I felt so frustrated with myself that I burst into tears. My mentors were very understanding, but they didn’t stop there. They made sure I didn’t feel alone and recommended the Resilient Scientist series. Through journaling techniques that were introduced, I realized that I’ve been anxious because I wanted to grow personally and professionally at an unrealistic speed (so I can be there for my aging parents who are oceans away). Having this awareness really helped me to be patient with and compassionate towards my inner self.” — Kathy


“Early 2020, I was feeling hopeless as I watched the problems in our society, followed by the pandemic. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu helped me reset my perspective about our struggles. They share the eight pillars of joy: perspective, gratitude, humility, acceptance, humor, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity. Now I am grateful for what I have and am learning to accept things I cannot control as I work towards a more joyful life. I am glad that NIH is highlighting mental health issues now. Hopefully soon, seeking support for mental health will be much like seeing a doctor for physical health.” — Dr. Megha Rajendran


“As a newly employed postdoc who just pulled up stakes from Berkeley, CA, and moved to edgy downtown Baltimore, I felt lost without my trusted sources of beans, refried and coffee. My new surroundings at the  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine were definitely not as cheery as Berkeley. Not a single Italian cafe next to campus. My first project was to examine the genome of fission yeast to uncover transposable elements. Given this was before genomes could be sequenced, I was left pursuing a number of risky strategies to trap insertions. At the lowest point of this search, I ultimately found success literally in the mail. Fresh roasted coffee beans shipped in from Peet’s greatly boosted my morale, and in a letter from a leading geneticist studying fission yeast I found a 1 kb fragment of DNA that hybridized to 50 bands on a Southern of fission yeast DNA. The colleague suggested it might be interesting. It was! It turned out to be a bit of a retrotransposon I ultimately used to clone and study several fully mobile elements. My lesson from this is you have to take care of yourself when times are tough, and there are great benefits to being connected with colleagues.” — Dr. Henry Levin, NICHD Senior Investigator

Wednesday, April 14, 1–2 PM

Annual Postbac Course: “Cloning a Gene—How to, and Practical Applications”
Led by Raffaella de Pace, PhD
Postdoc, NICHD Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Ms. Brittney Corum (brittney.corum@nih.gov).


Wednesday, April 21, 1–2 PM 

Annual Postbac Course: “The Graduate School Search and Application Process”
Led by Erin Walsh, PhD
Acting Director, NICHD Office of Education

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Ms. Brittney Corum (brittney.corum@nih.gov).


Thursday, April 22, 9 AM–4 PM 

NIH's 27th Annual “Take Your Child to Work Day”
Virtual Only

NIH's annual “Take Your Child to Work Day (TYCTWD)” is going VIRTUAL this year. Over the past 12 months, every day has been “take our children to work.” This event will provide children grades 1–12 an opportunity to see how your efforts contribute to the NIH, our nation's biomedical research agency, and inspire them to explore career paths in science and public service.

The Office of Research Services, Program and Employee Services is the primary sponsor of TYCTWD 2021. More information can be found at the TYCTWD Site. Please email any questions and comments to Take-Your-Child-To-Work@nih.gov.


Tuesday, April 27–Thursday, April 29

NIH Postbac Poster Days (Virtual)

Postbac Poster Day is your opportunity to share the research you have been conducting at the NIH and at the same time develop your communication and networking skills. We encourage all current NIH Postbacs to present at this virtual event. The top 20% of poster authors will receive a letter to acknowledge this accomplishment.

For more information, please visit https://www.training.nih.gov/virtual_postbac_poster_day.


Ongoing Events around Campus

NIH-Wide Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) Events
For more information and registration, please visit Upcoming OITE Events.

NIH Library Training and Events
For more information and registration, please visit the NIH Library Calendar.

“You are more resilient than you think you are,” someone told me recently. I was feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Like many of you, the experiences of the pandemic exposed me to exhaustion and burnout—not just for me, but for my entire family.

I’ve encountered a need for resiliency a few times during my life. The most prominent experience was during my recovery from lymphoma, which required aggressive chemotherapy. I learned to create and embrace a support network of friends and family to make it through. Now, I need to bounce back again from the stressors of the past year. Resilience is a hard-earned trait. But once mastered, you might find yourself stronger than you were before.

This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to stories of resiliency. In our Former Fellow Follow-Up column, Dr. Jason Riley describes the many obstacles and failures he worked through to bring his patented technology to market. From each failure, he learned his strengths and moved forward toward his goal.

We also received several stories of resiliency from current fellows and investigators. I encourage you to check out their experiences. We are not alone in our hardships, and yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are many sources of support as we continue to build resilience. You’ll find several in this month’s Clinical Corner column, the Rep Report, and April’s announcements and events.

Vaccines are on the way. Schools are reopening. Some restrictions are lifting. There is hope that life will soon be bustling again.

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

Please send questions or comments to our editor at shana.spindler@nih.gov.

Clinical Corner logo

Master Stress graphic, transcript below

Women and ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in science and in leadership positions across scientific organizations. Representation of women of color is even lower across the industry, academia, and federal workforces. Examining the views and experiences of those impacted and developing strategies to overcome this gap is a crucial step for any organization.

Stress can generally be defined as a change or shift that causes physical, emotional, or psychological tension.1 Although positive or negative, stress can ultimately result in physiological changes detrimental to one’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The effects of stress are further exacerbated in medical providers. Stress in the medical field has been a distressing theme, particularly since the emergence of the infamous phenomenon, “burnout.” Incorporated into the mental health lexicon in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, burnout is used to describe severe stress levels conceptualized in working professionals.2 Physicians and professionals alike commonly experience this exhaustive emotional state due to several factors, including the demanding nature of work and social expectations. Despite the positive impact clinicians have on society, the altruistic tradition of medicine, which places the welfare of society above self-interest, can oftentimes result in the decline of the provider, compromising the overall quality of care.

To address this obstacle, there are several distinct resources available to NIH clinicians, including but not limited to the NIH’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This confidential resource provides NIH employees with access to professional counseling services, such as crisis intervention and support for personal growth and development. The EAP also teaches skills for managing stress, including stress assessment and awareness, time management, and relaxation exercises.3 Endorsed by the American Psychological Association, other evidence-based methods of alleviating stress include progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, sleep, and social support.4 Through these practices, one can reduce stress levels and develop resiliency.

According to Dr. Sharon Milgram, Director of the Office of Intramural Training & Education at NIH, those who are resilient prepare to be resilient, as it requires self-reflection, learned experiences, and practice. Through the development and utilization of individualized stress management skills, clinicians and other professionals can learn to “bounce back” from difficult situations and ultimately achieve profound personal growth—positively transforming the quality of care to a more proficient medical practice.


1 Scott, E. (2020, August 3). What is Stress? Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-health-3145086

2 InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Depression: What is burnout? [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286/

3 Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Division of Occupational Health and Safety, National Institutes of Health Office of Management. (2021). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/HealthAndWellness/EAP/Pages/index.aspx

4 Healthy ways to handle life's stressors. (2019, November 1). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/tips


Master Stress transcript

Maintain healthy eating
Avoid social isolation
Stay informed, not obsessed
Talk to others
Engage in mindfulness
Relax, play, exercise

Start journaling
Take deep breaths
Rest and sleep well
Engage in gratitude
S
tep outside into nature
S
eek support from friends, family, and professionals


Resources to Support the Supervisor and the Distressed Trainee

Click image to download this flyer as a PDF.

Support Resources flyer

Save the Date! From Postdoc to Faculty: Successful Transitions to Academia

Thursday, May 13, 1–2 p.m.

Are you thinking about a career in academia? Often postdocs spend time crafting their future research program, but are not introduced to important steps necessary for the successful transition to academia. Come learn these basics about navigating the academic job search process and important academic interviewing skills. Discover ways to prepare for success in academia once there (grants, mentoring & collaborations) and tips to avoid burnout. 

This virtual seminar will be given by Dr. Paula Gregory, Associate Dean for Faculty & Educational Development in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of North Texas.   

Please email Ms. Brittney Corum (brittney.corum@nih.gov) if you are planning to join.


Save the Date! K99 Awards for Clinical Fellows (for clinical fellows only)

Friday, May 14, 9–11 a.m.

Are you a clinical fellow interested in writing and applying for a K99? This workshop will cover critical aspects of writing NIH Career Development (K) grants, including writing clear and concise Specific Aims, writing the Career Development and Training sections, and an introduction to the NIH review process and how grants are scored. Importantly, this workshop emphasizes the necessary partnership between the candidate, the mentors and the institution and its vital role in successful career development award proposals.

This virtual seminar will be given by Dr. Paula Gregory, Associate Dean for Faculty & Educational Development in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of North Texas.

Please email Ms. Brittney Corum (brittney.corum@nih.gov) if you are planning to join.


Save the Date! May 25, 16th Annual Meeting for Fellows

The 16th Annual Meeting for Postdoctoral, Clinical, and Visiting Fellows and Graduate Students will take place on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. This year’s retreat will be held virtually. 

This meeting will allow you to step away from the lab for a day to network with your NICHD colleagues, participate in a career exploration session, and learn more about the recent developments in our intramural research programs.

This year’s retreat will include:

  • Keynote presentation by Dr. John F. Tisdale, Senior Investigator at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics Branch
  • Afternoon keynote presentation on mentoring by Dr. Gisela Storz, NICHD-NIH Distinguished Investigator, Section on Environmental Gene Regulation.
  • Career breakout sessions with professionals from academe, industry, teaching, government administration, science communications, science policy, and grants management.
  • You can be a highlight at the retreat too! You can present you work during the virtual poster sessions, and six fellows will be selected to give a talk from their submitted abstracts.

To be considered for one of the six fellows’ oral presentation slots, please submit your presentation title and an abstract, no later than Monday, May 3rd, to Ms. Brittney Corbin (brittney.corbin@nih.gov). The abstract should summarize your research project(s), including: an introduction with its relevance to improving human health, a description of the experimental techniques, key results, conclusion statements, and future directions. The body of your abstract should not exceed 300 words.

Registration information to follow soon!


NIH IPPCR Course Online: Registration Still Open

Interested in expanding your clinical research knowledge base in 2021? Registration for the 2020–2021 NIH Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR) course is still open!

This free, self-paced, online course is open for registration until July 1, 2021. Graduate students, clinical fellows and post-doctoral fellows are encouraged to enroll now.

The IPPCR course is a lecture series from thought-leaders around the world covering:

  • Study designs, measurement, and statistics
  • Ethical, legal, monitoring, and regulatory considerations
  • Preparation and implementation of clinical studies
  • Communication of research findings and other topics

To register, please visit the IPPCR website at https://ocr.od.nih.gov/courses/ippcr.html. If you have any questions, please contact Rebecca Hwang at ippcr2@mail.nih.gov.


NIH PCP Course Online: Registration Still Open

Registration is still open for the 2020–2021 NIH Principles of Clinical Pharmacology (PCP) Course!

The PCP course is a free online lecture series covering the fundamentals of clinical pharmacology as a translational scientific discipline focused on rational drug development and utilization in therapeutics. Topics covered in the course include pharmacokinetics, drug therapy in special populations, drug discovery and development, and pharmacogenomics.

The course is free, self-paced, and entirely online through the PCP website.

A certificate of completion is awarded to participants who achieve a passing score on the final exam.

The course will be of interest to graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and clinical fellows interested in expanding their pharmacology knowledge base.

For additional information on the course, please visit the website above or contact Rebecca Hwang at odpcp@mail.nih.gov.

Rep Report logoAs the current NICHD Basic Sciences Institutes and Centers (IC) Representative, I represent NICHD postdoctoral fellows at the Fellows Committee (FelCom) meeting every month and share the latest news with you here. Do you have a concern or question that you want brought up at the next meeting? Contact me at lauren.walling@nih.gov!


The Recreation and Welfare/Health and Wellness Committees received approval to form the new Health & Recreation Subcommittee. This subcommittee will promote health and well-being by developing activities centered on fitness, self-care, and health habits. Keep an eye out for events organized by this group in the future! Additionally, join the Bethesda Postdocs Slack page to network with other postdocs, join game nights, running club, and more.

The FARE committee will be accepting applications for the FARE 2022 awards from February 10 to March 10. If you are interested in being a judge, registration began on February 10.

The DIS-VFC Immigration Symposium will be held virtually on March 9. Topics of discussion include COVID-related travel restrictions and J1 to H1b orientation. Information is available at the Office of Research Services website.

The Career Development Committee is looking for new members to help organize and host their monthly career panels. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Kanchan Gupta (kanchan.gupta@nih.gov) or Tam Vo (tam.vo@nih.gov).

I have an older female friend who loves science and talks about how she didn’t know a woman could go into research. She’s from a small rural town, where females choose between a handful of career options. Had her high school counselor told her about careers in science, she would have pursued that early interest. But her lack of a female scientist role model meant that she didn’t know a scientific career was possible for herself.

Role models from underrepresented groups are essential to the future growth of every field. “Studies have demonstrated that individuals who observe and interact with career role models who have a similar background have greater persistence in their STEM career,” wrote Dr. Marie Bernard, acting director of the NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Office, in her online blog.

This month, we continue our focus on support for underrepresented groups in science. Check out our Q&A with Dr. Aisha Burton, recently named one of “1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America” by Cell Mentor. As a female Black scientist, Dr. Burton stands at the intersection of two underrepresented groups—something she has celebrated throughout her career and in social media.

To continue the discussion beyond this month, we are beginning a new column to raise awareness of issues surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our inaugural article, “Deconstructing Bias: Uncover, Disarm, Educate,” covers the definition of bias and offers several resources to help break the cycle of racial disparities.

If you have questions or need support with these issues, please reach out to Dr. Triesta Fowler (triesta.fowler-lee@nih.gov) in the NICHD Office of Education. Dr. Fowler leads the NICHD DIR diversity initiatives.

We wrap up this issue with supportive sentiments from Dr. Fady Hannah-Shmouni in our “Clinical Corner” column, updates from the latest FelCom meeting in our regular “Rep Report,” and many March announcements and events!

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

Do you have an idea you’d like covered in the newsletter? Email our editor at shana.spindler@nih.gov.

FARE 2022 Travel Award Competition

Submit an abstract for a chance to win a $1,500 travel award

The NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) competition is NOW OPEN. FARE recognizes outstanding scientific research by intramural NIH fellows and graduate students. Abstracts will be evaluated anonymously, and the top 25% of applicants will receive a $1,500 travel award to present their exciting and novel research at a scientific meeting during FY2022 (October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022).

How to Apply:

Submit your abstract online via https://www2.training.nih.gov/transfer/fareapp until March 10, 2021 (5 PM).

Who is eligible:

  • Postdoctoral fellows with less than five years total postdoctoral experience within the NIH intramural research program
  • Pre-doctoral IRTAs performing their doctoral dissertation research at NIH and graduate students in the Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP)

Winners will be announced by August 19, 2021.
For more information, go to www.training.nih.gov/felcom/fare/faqs.
For questions and concerns, contact the FARE 2022 committee at FARE@mail.nih.gov.


Do You Know about the Scientific Interest Group (SIG) Awards?

SIG Awards were introduced to the Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) Competition in 2018 to further recognize and merit the work of FARE awardees, and to provide an opportunity for them to showcase their research to the wider scientific community. The SIG Award involves the selection of a winning abstract from the FARE Competition by participating SIGs that they deem to be of high scientific merit. These awardees are then invited to present their work at one of the SIG meetings.

Congratulations to our two NICHD fellows who received SIG awards during last year’s FARE 2021 competition:


Christopher Rhodes

Dr. Christopher Rhodes (Petros lab)

Single-Cell Genomics Interest Group

“Integration of single cell transcriptomes and chromosome accessibility to detect regulatory elements critical to interneuron development”



Joyce Thompson

Dr. Joyce Thompson (Rocha lab)

Transcription Scientific Interest Group

“Rapid reshuffling of master transcription factors allows exit from plasticity to establish cell-fate”

NICHD FARE 2021 SIG Runners-Up by Interest Group:

Decode Chromatin Interest Group

  • Dr. Joyce Thompson (Rocha lab)

Neurobiology Interest Group

  • Dr. Miranda Marvel (Weinstein lab)
  • Dr. Cole Malloy (Hoffman lab)

Protein Trafficking and Organelle Dynamics Interest Group

  • Dr. Joshua Pemberton (Balla lab)

The Business of Science: Your Guide to Career Success

This month, the NICHD Office of Education is offering a virtual bootcamp training, led by SciPhD, for all fellows and graduate students who are planning their professional career transition.

This training will take place as a series of four live webinars that cover the following:

  • Finding jobs
  • Analyzing job ads to determine your skill match and qualifications
  • Developing experience statements and accomplishments that demonstrate your qualifications
  • Generating a draft formatted targeted resume
  • Preparing for the interview process

Additionally, there will be a virtual networking reception, where you will have the opportunity to meet and speak with representatives from companies that are actively hiring scientists.

Virtual Bootcamp Schedule:

Session 1The Business of Science, Dissecting a Job Ad to Identify Critical Skills, Targeted Resumes, Flamingo Software TrainingTuesday, March 16
9 AM – 12:30 PM
Session 2Technical Literacy, Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Behavioral Interview ExerciseWednesday, March 17
9 AM – 1 PM
Session 3Applied Networking, LinkedIn, Networking ReceptionThursday, March 18
12 noon – 4 PM
Session 4Project Management, Negotiating Your Departure with Your PI, Negotiating Salary, Q&AFriday, March 19
9 AM – 1 PM

SciPhD has worked with over 120 institutions since their start, providing support to thousands of academic scientists for their successful transition to their next position.

Each participant will receive their own individual license to the SciPhD online web application Flamingo®, which allows you to put into action the skills you learn in the webinars. Import a job ad, use Flamingo®’s Job Analytics Engine to identify critical skills, and generate a targeted resume.

If you would like to sign up for these live webinar sessions, please contact Ms. Monica Cooper at cooperm@mail.nih.gov.


NIH IPPCR Course Online: Registration Still Open

Interested in expanding your clinical research knowledge base in 2021? Registration for the 2020–2021 NIH Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR) course is still open!

This free, self-paced, online course is open for registration until July 1, 2021. Graduate students, clinical fellows and post-doctoral fellows are encouraged to enroll now.

The IPPCR course is a lecture series from thought-leaders around the world covering:

  • Study designs, measurement, and statistics
  • Ethical, legal, monitoring, and regulatory considerations
  • Preparation and implementation of clinical studies
  • Communication of research findings and other topics

To register, please visit the IPPCR website at https://ocr.od.nih.gov/courses/ippcr.html. If you have any questions, please contact Rebecca Hwang at ippcr2@mail.nih.gov.


NIH PCP Course Online: Registration Still Open

Registration is still open for the 2020–2021 NIH Principles of Clinical Pharmacology (PCP) Course!

The PCP course is a free online lecture series covering the fundamentals of clinical pharmacology as a translational scientific discipline focused on rational drug development and utilization in therapeutics. Topics covered in the course include pharmacokinetics, drug therapy in special populations, drug discovery and development, and pharmacogenomics.

The course is free, self-paced, and entirely online through the PCP website: https://ocr.od.nih.gov/courses/principles-clinical-pharmacology.html.

A certificate of completion is awarded to participants who achieve a passing score on the final exam.

The course will be of interest to graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and clinical fellows interested in expanding their pharmacology knowledge base.

For additional information on the course, please visit the website above or contact Rebecca Hwang at odpcp@mail.nih.gov.


SAVE THE DATE: April 22, Take Your Child to Work Day

NIH's 27th Annual Take Your Child to Work Day
Thursday, April 22, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Virtual Only.

NIH's annual “Take Your Child to Work Day (TYCTWD)” is going VIRTUAL this year.

Over the past 12 months, every day has been “take our children to work.” This event will provide children grades 1–12 an opportunity to see how your efforts contribute to the NIH—our nation's biomedical research agency—and inspire them to explore career paths in science and public service.

Please note this year’s registration timeline:

  • March 16 at 12 noon: Pre-registration (Site opens for you to enter your child/ren's information and preview activities ONLY).
  • March 23 at 12 noon: Registration Phase 1 (Register child/ren for up to 2 limited space activities each).
  • March 30 at 12 noon: Registration Phase 2 (Register child/ren for up to 2 additional limited space activities for a maximum of four limited space activities).

The Office of Research Services, Program and Employee Services is the primary sponsor of TYCTWD 2021. More information can found at the TYCTWD Site. Please email any questions and comments to Take-Your-Child-To-Work@nih.gov.



Wednesday, March 3, 1–2 PM

Annual Postbac Course: “Meet the Scientist: Clinical Research”
Led by Fady Hannah-Shmouni, MD, DABIM, AHSCP, FRCPC
Internal Medicine-Endocrinology, Hypertension & Metabolic Genetics

Director, Graduate Medical Education, NICHD Office of Education

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Monica Cooper at cooperm@mail.nih.gov.


Wednesday, March 10, 1–2 PM

Annual Postbac Course: “The Medical School Personal Statement”
Led by Triesta Fowler, MD
Director of Communications and Outreach for the NICHD Office of Education

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Monica Cooper at cooperm@mail.nih.gov.


Wednesday, March 10, 1–2PM

“Building Resiliency in 2021 – Combatting Burnout and Pandemic Fatigue”
Ms. Kathleen Crowley, LCSW, ACSW, CEAP
Work-Life and Clinical Supervisor at LifeWork Strategies
Online Only.

The past year did not come with a roadmap. We have had many twists and turns with times of uncertainty that have left us feeling fatigued and experiencing burn-out due to the pandemic. We invite you to join this webinar as speaker, Ms. Kathleen Crowley, LCSW, ACSW, CEAP defines stress and resiliency, identifies the qualities of effective coping, and discusses the skills necessary for building and maintaining resiliency.

This webinar is open to everyone in the NIH community. Reserve your webinar seat now!


Tuesday, March 23, 10–11 AM

Mandatory Training: Your Rights and Responsibilities as an NIH Trainee
(Research Fellows and Clinical Fellows are encouraged, but not required, to attend.)
Participation in this training is only required once.

OITE will provide a virtual mandatory training for all trainees (IRTAs and Visiting Fellows) regarding your rights and responsibilities as a trainee, especially around new policies at the NIH. The goal of this session is to provide you with information to make sure that you are safe while at the NIH, and that you know the policies and resources to set yourself up for personal and career success.

Please register to attend!

(NIH email required for registration)


March and April

Three-Minute Talks (TmT)

Individual coaching/practice sessions with Scott Morgan. Practice your talk and obtain feedback on oral presentation skills and speech development.

This event requires registration. For more information, please contact Monica Cooper at cooperm@mail.nih.gov.

The NICHD and NIH TmT competitions will be held in early June and during the last week of June, respectively. Dates to be announced in the coming weeks.

Three-minute Talks 2021 logo


Ongoing Events around Campus

NIH-Wide Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) Events
For more information and registration, please visit Upcoming OITE Events.

NIH Library Training and Events
For more information and registration, please visit the NIH Library Calendar.

Fady Hannah-Shmouni

Fady Hannah-Shmouni, MD, DABIM, AHSCP, FRCPC 
Director of Graduate Medical Education, NICHD DIR

Women and ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in science and in leadership positions across scientific organizations. Representation of women of color is even lower across the industry, academia, and federal workforces. Examining the views and experiences of those impacted and developing strategies to overcome this gap is a crucial step for any organization.

The NICHD Office of Education is committed to supporting underrepresented groups in STEM through diversity initiatives, including the NICHD Developing Talent Scholars Program and the NICHD Fellows Recruitment Incentive Award. But we need to consider minority representation within clinical studies too. Last month in this column, Esther Kwarteng wrote about the importance of diversity in clinical trials. The NICHD clinical training programs are committed to making progress on this front.

To give one specific example: staff clinician and former clinical fellow Dr. Crystal Kamilaris is leading a protocol to study genes that may cause primary aldosteronism in individuals who are Black, African American, or of Caribbean decent. This research stems from findings that African Americans have increased susceptibility to aldosterone excess; they are more likely to have congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, and atherosclerotic events than age-matched Caucasians. Clearly, representation in clinical trials is important for the development of diagnostics/treatments for minority populations—who may have unique risk factors present.

As you continue your research and clinical careers, please commit to joining us in supporting and advocating for equality, inclusion, and diversity across the sciences and within clinical studies.

A cube made of smaller, multicolored cubes, with the word BIAS on them. Some of the cubes are removed.This column will provide tools and resources that you can use to help you become aware and educate yourself on the issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. These topics can be very difficult to address and understand. The resources offered here can help you begin the journey of discovery and learn how you can play your part in breaking the cycle of racial disparities and bias that have become rooted into society, as well as biomedical research. So, let us start by discussing what defines bias.

Bias

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “Bias” as the action of supporting or opposing a particular person or thing in an unfair way, because of allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment. Some bias thoughts we are aware of, but others occur outside of our consciousness or control and are developed based on many factors. The idea that it unconsciously develops should encourage each of us to explore our own ideas and beliefs to discover if any of them are biased. This may not be easy, but it is imperative if we want to challenge and change this way of thinking.

Resources

#FirstGenDoc #BlackinMicro

Aisha Burton

Aisha Burton, PhD
Twitter: @Aisha_Burton

Mentor: Dr. Gisela “Gigi” Storz
Area of research: Regulatory roles of small proteins on two component systems in E. coli

A role model is someone whose example inspires others to reach similar successes. When you start out in science, you look up to others for evidence that your goals are achievable. And then as you make progress, others look up to you. Dr. Aisha Burton, recently listed in Cell Mentor’s list of 1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America, is a role model for both female and Black scientists. Read below for Dr. Burton's reaction to the Cell Mentor honor and her personal experiences with community support:

What does it mean to you that Cell Mentor published a list of 1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America?

It is an amazing honor, and I am truly humbled to be included on such a star-studded list! It was great to see many of my colleagues on this list! I’m happy that it is bringing awareness that Black scientists do exist in many different fields.

When did you develop your interest in science?

When I was a child, I was very curious about the world around me. My mother used to take me to Sandridge Nature Center (South Holland, IL) as a child, and I would learn about the nature around us (birds, snakes, types of grasses, etc.). I also helped her around the garden and would ask tons of questions. My parents put me in a science camp over summer breaks, and I would always come home excited to tell them what I learned. In high school, my AP chemistry teacher, Mr. Stark, really made chemistry lab fun, and I enjoyed his class. That is when I knew I wanted to pursue a science degree.

As you pursued a scientific career, did you have any role models or mentors who provided a voice of support for your career goals?

I have had a lot of mentors along the way who have helped mold me into the scientist I am today. A few of them are:

  • Dr. William Walden at University of Illinois at Chicago gave me my first job as a dishwasher when I was a freshman in college (and he was also the first Black PI I ever met in STEM).
  • Dr. Judy Wall was an excellent mentor, and it was in her lab at the University of Missouri where I fell in love with microbiology. She was very encouraging of me to apply to graduate school. I was also a Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) scholar during this time, and the program was very supportive of my goals too!
  • Dr. Daniel Kearns was my PhD advisor at Indiana University. He is very supportive of his trainees and the students in the microbiology section. He taught me the importance of taking care of your mental health while on the PhD journey.
  • Last, but not least, Dr. Gisela “Gigi” Storz (NICHD) has been a great mentor! As soon as I started as a postdoc, she was interested in my goals and allowed me time to explore. By doing so, I was able to home in on a career in academia at smaller institutions.

As you progress in your career, trainees from underrepresented groups in science will look up to you as a role model. Is there anything you want to tell them?

The journey will be hard, but stay the course. If this degree is what you want, don’t let anyone take you from your goal. Build a community that supports you and wants you to succeed. I was able to succeed by building my own community of family, friends, and mentors.

Check out the NICHD Instagram #Womeninscience series for more of Dr. Aisha Burton's story.

Transcript: “My advice to younger trainees is to build a community. During graduate school, having a community of students and colleagues helped me navigate the highs and lows and was essential for my success.”
— Aisha Burton, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Storz Lab, NICHD

You have a very active Twitter feed! Can you talk about your experience with social media and support for Black scientists?

For me, Twitter is a great place to meet other scientists within and outside of my field. Since I moved from Indiana, I relied on Twitter for support. I have met many of my Twitter followers at conferences or talks. More recently, I have met other Black scientists in my own field.

Recently, there has been a boom of support for Black scientists in numerous fields, and I love it! Being a minority in science brings its challenges (microaggressions, cultural differences, etc.), but having an online community that understands you helps.

Overall, science Twitter is a big melting pot of support for your research and even personal life. It helps remind me that as scientists we are more than just our research.

Any final thoughts to share with the NICHD community about the importance of support for underrepresented groups in science?

Support systems for underrepresented groups in science are very important. It can be the difference between a trainee staying or leaving a program. In my own experience, if I did not have a community supporting me, I might not have finished my PhD. I love that the NIH has the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) because they offer many support groups that help foster communities for trainees.

Wednesday, February 10, 1–2PM

Annual Postbac Course: “Meet the Scientist: Basic Science Research”
Gisela Storz, PhD & Matthias Machner, PhD

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Monica Cooper at cooperm@mail.nih.gov.


Thursday, February 11

Three-Minute Talks (TmT) Competition: “Speaking About Science” Workshop
Scott Morgan

Join us to learn about:

  • Scientific storytelling with only one slide
  • Speaking in plain language while addressing the human health relevance for your research
  • Creating effective visual aids

The deadline to enter the 2021 TmT Competition is Monday, February 8. Please visit the NICHD TmT Webpage for submission forms and more information.


Wednesday, February 17, 12–1PM

Annual Postbac Course: “Meet the Physician”
Physician Panel

*Please note that this session will begin at 12 noon*

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Monica Cooper at cooperm@mail.nih.gov.


Ongoing Events Around Campus

NIH-Wide Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) Events
For more information and registration, please visit Upcoming OITE Events.

NIH Library Training and Events
For more information and registration, please visit the NIH Library Calendar.