Tuesday, November 7, 1–2 PM

Postbac Seminar Series: “Interviewing for Professional School”
With Public Speaking Coach Scott Morgan
Building 45, F1/F2 Conference Room

Join us (in-person!) for Scott Morgan’s workshop “Interviewing for Professional School.”

This is a fantastic workshop for learning interview strategies and gaining confidence if you plan to apply to graduate or medical/professional school.

In this highly interactive session, you will learn:

  • Tips to help you prepare for your interviews and present yourself professionally
  • Types/examples of questions you can expect
  • Strategies for delivering your best answers
  • Types of questions to ask your interviewers
  • Adapting your interviewing skills to virtual platforms

To register, please email Ms. Veronica Harker ( for access to the Google document online.

Ongoing Events Around Campus

NIH-Wide Office of Intramural Training and Education 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.

The Shi Lab is on a Winning Streak!

Three NICHD fellows in the laboratory of Yun-bo Shi, PhD, Section on Molecular Morphogenesis, recently received recognition for their endocrinology research. Please join us in congratulating them on their impressive achievements!

Lingyu Bao, PhD, and Zhaoyi Peng, PhD, received an Outstanding Trainee Poster award at the American Thyroid Association Annual Meeting, September 27–October 1, in Washington D.C. Their abstracts were selected for the award by the American Thyroid Association Trainees and Career Advancement Committee as well as the Program Committee.

Dr. Bao presented “Defects in thyroid hormone transporter due to slc7a5 knockout causes Paneth cell dedifferentiation toward stem cells.”

Dr. Peng presented “Protein arginine methyltransferase 1, a coactivator for thyroid hormone receptor, regulates adult intestinal epithelial cell proliferation and enteroendocrine cell differentiation.”

Yuta Tanizaki, PhD, was one of two recipients of the 2023 Incentive Award from the Japanese Society of Comparative Endocrinology for his work “Study of thyroid hormone function in tissue/organ development.” Dr. Tanizaki will present his award-winning lecture after the award ceremony during a conference at Kyushu University later this year.

Lingyu Bao, PhD

Lingyu Bao, PhD

Zhaoyi Peng, PhD

Zhaoyi Peng, PhD

Yuta Tanizaki, PhD

Yuta Tanizaki, PhD

Let Us Know About Your Recent Accomplishments 

We’d love to recognize your great news from 2023—from winning a poster award to landing a new job! Please email a brief description of your accomplishment(s) to our editor, Dr. Shana Spindler (, and we will include them in our December issue.

The Fellows Editorial Board (FEB) is Recruiting New Members

What is FEB? FEB offers fellows a free, confidential scientific document-editing service to NIH and FDA fellows. If you are an NIH or FDA fellow, you are eligible for active membership on FEB. Joining the Board gives fellows editorial training and experience. Active members participate in all FEB activities including reviewing submitted documents, following an editorial process, preparing final reports, and weekly meetings.

If you are interested in becoming a member, please complete the membership registration form.

Visit our website or email for more information.

Feature Your Image on the Annual Report

The NICHD Division of Intramural Research (DIR) will feature exciting scientific images, from basic and clinical research laboratories, on the cover and web site of the 2023 DIR Annual Report. To submit images for consideration, please email your file to Nicki Swan ( or contact her if the file is too large to send by email. All entries are due by December 29, 2023!

Help Us Innovate: Join the Innovative Culture Advisory Committee (ICAC)

NICHD staff are a rich source of new ideas to advance our mission. To support an innovative culture as part of NICHD’s focus on improving administrative efficiency under its Strategic Plan, the Institute is forming the Innovative Culture Advisory Committee (ICAC). The ICAC will be the governing body responsible for overseeing the Institute’s strategic goals and activities to sustain and promote a culture of innovation. Members will help foster an environment where employees have opportunities to propose new ideas and are engaged in a culture of continuous improvement.

You must be passionate about innovation and have worked at NICHD full-time for a minimum of six months to apply for membership. Members will serve as key contacts for staff who seek to share and develop innovative ideas and promote administrative innovation across the institute. 

To nominate yourself or a colleague, please complete a brief application by close of business on December 1.

Please contact with any questions or concerns.

NIH UNITE: Ending Structural Racism (ESR) Activities

The NIH UNITE initiative was established to identify and address structural racism within the NIH-supported and the greater scientific community.

The ESR Intranet includes various resources like the ToolkitNewsletterFAQs, and other information.

UNITE Milestones and Progress and the Co-Chairs Corner (public ESR webpages) are other avenues to stay informed on UNITE efforts.

Rep Report logoAs the current NICHD Basic Sciences Institutes and Centers (IC) Representative, I represent NICHD postdoctoral fellows at the NIH 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, Hyo Won Ahn, at 


We’ve created a new page on the Newsletter Wiki for Selected FelCom Events. Near the beginning of each month, we’ll post same-month events that are announced during the monthly FelCom meetings. Check in regularly!

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) will host the NPA International Equity Summit on Thursday, November 9, 1–5 p.m. ET to address barriers that disproportionately impact international scholars. The summit is open to everyone, and membership with the NPA is not required to attend. It is the hope of the NPA and its allies that these conversations will lead to further discussions about specific issues and actions toward greater equity for international scholars in the postdoctoral community. Follow this link to register.

All NIH postdocs/fellows get NPA affiliate individual memberships for FREE! Join now!

The Service and Outreach Subcommittee is planning a Weed Warrior volunteering event to remove invasive plants in one of Montgomery County’s parks on November 18, 9–11 a.m. If interested, please contact Alex Vendola ( or Rachel Keith (

The Career Development Committee is arranging a series of events, called “Careers in Scientific Administration,” to introduce administrative jobs for scientists. The event will occur at the end of this month, and a date will be finalized soon and announced on listservs. Please join if you are thinking about your next career position! For more information, please contact Abraham Trujillo Hernandez ( or Sharmina Deloer (

Did you know that there are several ways to stay informed on postdoc activities and events?

The NIH Pathway to Independence Award, also known as the K99/R00, helps early-career scientists transition from a postdoctoral training position to that of an independent investigator. Considered one of the most prestigious funding opportunities available for both domestic and international fellows, the award provides funding for one to two years of postdoctoral training and three years of independent research as a principal investigator.

Read below for more information about this year’s NICHD award-winning projects, plus a fun fact about each K99 recipient.

Diana Elizondo, PhD

Diana Elizondo, PhD

A fun fact about Dr. Elizondo: “I enjoy baking cinnamon banana bread during cold weather mornings.” 

“Delineation of macrophage-derived transglutaminases' role in adipose tissue health and inflammation in obesity.”

Unhealthy obesity is characterized by impaired adipose tissue growth and function, and altered inflammatory states. Invariably, this condition promotes the development of metabolic disorders. Although the pathological burden is well established, the underpinning molecular mechanics that drive deregulation of immunometabolic activities remain unclear. We show that transglutaminases are novel soluble modulators of immunometabolism that can shift obesity into a metabolically unhealthy state. Importantly, we identified macrophages as key  sources of transglutaminases in obesity—thereby extending the importance of the transglutaminase-producing macrophage subsets as pivotal players governing the shift towards unhealthy obesity. We hypothesize that myeloid-cell derived transglutaminases serve as pivotal modulators in balancing obesity health. To address this hypothesis, we will evaluate the mechanisms by which transglutaminases regulate adipose tissue health in obesity via employment of vector-based delivery of shRNA silencing of transglutaminases in diet-induced obese mice in vivo. Concomitantly, we will develop a novel lentiviral-based conditional knockout mouse model, as a tool to concretely evaluate the role of transglutaminase-producing immune cells in modulating the immunometabolic environment of obesity. Completion of this work will unravel the immunometabolic regulatory network orchestrated by specific transglutaminase-producing immune cell subsets in modulating the adipose tissue microenvironment during obesity.

Leah Greenspan, PhD

Leah Greenspan in Peru with a monkey on her head

A fun fact about Dr. Greenspan: “I enjoy extreme activities when I travel, including hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, backpacking in Denali National Park in Alaska with no set trail and only a compass and a map, and rappelling down waterfalls in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal.”

“Dissecting vascular reperfusion and remodeling after injury in zebrafish”

Two percent of the total US population is plagued by open chronic wounds, with defective vascular reperfusion acting as a major contributor to failed wound closure. Delayed vascular regrowth and remodeling after cutaneous injury is prevalent in aging and diabetic adults, but the mechanisms that are altered under these conditions are not well understood. I have established a new reproducible cutaneous wound model in zebrafish using a rotary tool. Using this injury system along with the long-term live imaging capabilities of adult zebrafish and the many novel tools available in this model, I seek to uncover how changes in endothelial cell responses to cutaneous injury contribute to the vascular defects seen in aging and diabetic wounds compared to normal vessel development and regrowth. My studies will reveal key regulators of vascular regrowth after injury and provide crucial insights toward establishing new vascular reparative therapies.

Joyce Thompson, PhD

Joyce Thompson, PhD

A fun fact about Dr. Thompson: “In my spare time I enjoy baking, reading, painting, photography, and gardening. But my favorite thing has to be trying new food and discovering flavors from across the globe!”

“The role of transcription factor co-binding in regulating progenitor plasticity and lineage emergence during mammalian embryogenesis”

All mammalian life begins as a single cell. During the course of development, this single cell is transformed into a multicellular embryo comprising of an entire repertoire of cell-lineages. Defects in the formation of any of these lineages lead to developmental anomalies and can even be detrimental in some cases. My research focuses on understanding how the first few cell-lineages of life arise from common progenitor populations, in the very early mouse embryo. By employing genomics assays my research aims to decipher how transcription factors regulate the genome to orchestrate the timely and accurate emergence of cell-lineages during embryonic development.

Jarred Whitlock, PhD

Jarred Whitlock, PhD

A fun fact about Dr. Whitlock: “My wife and I turned our basement into a home tiki bar during the pandemic to create an escape from work from home/lab schedules. It’s been a fantastic tool for community building and reminding us that the people we spend our lives with are more important than the work we also love.”

“Resolving the mechanism of osteoclast multinucleation and signaling in bone remodeling”

Bones are living tissues, continuously remade on-site by teams of multinucleated osteoclasts that resorb old bone and osteoblasts that deposit new bone. The number of nuclei within a multinucleated osteoclast determines its resorption capacity, and many skeletal pathologies—such as fibrous dysplasia, osteopetrosis, osteoporosis, and metastatic bone disease—are underpinned by perturbations in the number/size of osteoclasts, resulting in skeletal dysfunction in more than 200 million individuals. Gaps in our fundamental understanding of how osteoclasts form, function, and coordinate with osteoblasts to maintain skeletal integrity have stymied the identification of novel, targeted therapies. My lab will uncover a mechanistic understanding of how osteoclasts form, function, and coordinate with osteoblasts by exploiting a protein manager of osteoclast formation and rare disease models as guides. Filling these fundamental gaps in the understanding of skeletal biology will provide a battery of mechanistic targets to tune osteoclast function, promote bone regeneration, and address the growing metabolic skeletal pathology in our aging population.

Shu Yang, PhD

Shu Yang, PhD

A fun fact about Dr. Yang: “I love coffee. My favorite coffee is from the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe region. But the most tasteful coffee I ever had was from the Galápagos Islands.”

“How does the GATOR2 complex regulate lysosomal functions?”

Lysosomes are central to metabolic homeostasis. They are the main organelles that break down macromolecules to provide nutrients such as amino acids for cell growth. Lysosomes protect cells by digesting excess or unwanted cell parts. They also destroy invaded pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and  help to trigger programmed cell death under certain conditions. Lysosomal functions and physiology are tightly controlled by upstream signaling pathways. The MiT/TFEs transcriptional factor family promotes the transcription of a program of lysosomal and autophagic genes and is often deregulated in cancer. I discovered that the GATOR2 complex, an activator of the metabolic regulator TORC1, maintains lysosomal function by protecting MiT/TFEs from proteasomal degradation independent of TORC1 signaling. I determined that in GATOR2 knockout cells, members of the MiT/TFEs family are degraded by the proteasomes, resulting in lysosome dysfunction. Additionally, I demonstrated that the GATOR2-dependent regulation of MiT/TFEs is conserved in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and in translocation renal cell carcinoma and has roles in promoting the growth of those cancer cells. My research interest is to investigate the detailed mechanisms of this GATOR2-dependent regulation of MiT/TFEs, and how this pathway affects cancer metabolism.

Headshot of Ian Trees, PhD

Ian Trees, PhD

As I stepped into the grand hall of the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, I was met with an unmistakable buzz of excitement and happy chatter. The venue, a 500,000-square-foot emblem of scientific endeavor, boasted an atrium and adjacent rooms—each adorned with a myriad of NICHD posters summarizing countless hours of meticulous research. This year marked a poignant milestone, with the NICHD Scientific Retreat returning in person after three years of fully virtual activities. The event, held on September 26, was made even more special with a spotlight placed on junior scientists, who enjoyed the honor of presenting the results of their innovative research to the entire division.

The retreat kicked off with a message from Dr. Diana Bianchi, Director of the NICHD, underscoring the NICHD’s 2025 Strategic Plan and igniting a spark of interdisciplinary camaraderie that persisted throughout the program. Then, NICHD Scientific Director Dr. Chris McBain offered heartfelt remarks that brought a palpable sense of community to the hall. As Dr. McBain explained, NICHD intramural researchers published nearly 250 studies in 2023 to date, and he commended NICHD junior scientists for their substantial impact NIH-wide. For example, NICHD postdoctoral fellow Dr. Jong Park (Section on Vertebrate Organogenesis) received first place at the NIH Three-Minute Talk competition; the institute is currently supporting a record five K99 grants; and 16 of the top-ranked posters at the NIH Postbac Poster Day belonged to NICHD postbacs.

As a junior scientist and retreat presenter, the Scientific Retreat served as an arena to both learn and contribute. The sessions were an exciting ride of intellectual stimulation, diving deep into the realms of genetics, endocrinology, cellular biology, epidemiology, and beyond.

Dr. Catherine Gordon, NICHD Clinical Director, delivered the first keynote comprising her insights on bone density and marrow composition in adolescents, which was met with sweeping applause. What followed was a procession of presentations that illustrated the quantity and quality of research being conducted at the NICHD.

A couple of highlights for me included Dr. Abhishek Mukherjee’s (postdoctoral fellow, Section on Neural Developmental Dynamics) graphic showing the formation of epithelial cell clusters in zebrafish, which was nothing short of poetic and elucidated the intricate choreography of biology and mechanics. And Dr. Eastman Lewis’ (research fellow, Section on Molecular Neurobiology) talk on the excitatory and inhibitory signals in the prefrontal cortex captured the audience’s attention, even with the lure of an impending lunch break. He reminded us that “it takes your prefrontal cortex not to leave my talk and go eat!”

Dr. Erin Walsh, Director of the Office of Education, presented the 2023 NICHD Mentor of the Year awards to Dr. Ryan Dale (Head of the Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core) and Ms. Mor Alkaslasi (Graduate Student, Unit on the Development of Neurodegeneration). During this particularly uplifting portion of the program, Dr. Walsh acknowledged the struggles of both mentors and mentees in the past few years, a journey that every scientist in the room has navigated in one way or another.

Mor Alkaslasi holding her framed award certificate

Fellow Mentor of the Year

Mor Alkaslasi, Graduate Student, Unit on the Development of Neurodegeneration

Photo courtesy of Ms. Alkaslasi

Ryan Dale holding his framed award certificate

Investigator Mentor of the Year

Ryan Dale, PhD, Senior Scientist, Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core

Photo courtesy of Dr. Dale

The sequence of informative talks continued as Dr. Ursula Kaiser, Chair of the NICHD Board of Scientific Counselors and Professor of Medicine at Harvard, delved into the genetics and epigenetics of puberty during the second keynote. Dr. Kaiser’s talk unraveled the complex genetic and hormonal interplay of puberty onset, connecting molecular intricacies to real-world implications I was particularly impressed during the final session of the day, when Dr. Kiyohito Taimatsu (postdoctoral fellow, Section on Vertebrate Organogenesis) dazzled attendees with a vibrant three-dimensional reconstruction of a zebrafish pharynx after utilizing a novel agent that he developed to make the surrounding bone and tissue transparent.

Each talk and poster during the NICHD Scientific Retreat was a thread in the rich tapestry of innovation that the Division of Intramural Research embodies, showcasing not just the depth of our scientific pursuit but the breadth of fields and ideas therein. The blend of seasoned insights from established scientists and fresh perspectives from junior researchers enriched the scientific dialogue.

As Ms. Amaressa Abiodun, one of the event’s primary organizers, aptly noted, “being together and the genuine happiness of seeing each other [shows] how important being at a venue is for building camaraderie—and maybe even the wellness of the attendees.” As I reflect on the retreat, the words of Dr. McBain echo in my mind, urging us to “step back from the science for a moment to appreciate the incredible research we do.”

The Scientific Retreat was more than a congregation of scientists; it was a celebration of the spirit of inquiry, the joy of discovery, and the promise of science fostering a better understanding of life’s complex phenomena. As a proud member of the vibrant scientific community that is the NICHD, the future seems nothing but promising.

Thank you to the 2023 Scientific Retreat Steering Committee and OSD Staff

A big thank you to the following individuals for making the 2023 Scientific Retreat a great experience for the NICHD training population.

  • Bobby Cheon, PhD, Earl Stadtman Investigator, Social and Behavioral Sciences Branch, DiPHR
  • Elizabeth DeVilbiss, PhD, MPH, MS, Research Fellow, Office of the DiPHR Director
  • Ritu Gupta, PhD, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Section on Nutrient Control of Gene Expression
  • Pedro Rocha, PhD, Investigator, Unit of Genome Structure and Regulation
  • Amaressa Abiodun, Program Specialist, Office of the Scientific Director, DIR

Let us pause the regular Letter from the Editor to emphasize four important resources available to NIH fellows. If you are feeling overwhelmed by world events or experiences in your personal life, please remember the following offices and programs are here to assist you.

Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE)
The OITE mission is to enhance the training experience of students and fellows on all of the NIH campuses.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The purpose of the EAP is to help employees and fellows deal with personal and/or work-related issues that might adversely impact their job performance, health, and wellbeing in a confidential and neutral manner.
The NIH Civil Program
The Civil Program’s mission is to foster civility throughout the NIH community. Contact the Civil Program if you become aware of a workplace situation involving uncivil behavior, such as harassment, sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct, intimidation, bullying, or other unproductive, disruptive, and/or violent behaviors.
The purpose of the Office of the Ombudsman is to reduce disputes and enhance conflict management at the NIH. They offer several services, including consultation, coaching, mediation, facilitation, and training activities.

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

This newsletter is for NICHD fellows and by NICHD fellows. We want to hear from you! Please send your questions, comments, and ideas to our editor at

And just like that, the final few months of the year are upon us. The long, humid days of summer morph into shorter—but oh so pleasant—days of fall. Pumpkin products pepper local markets, foreshadowing holiday feasts with friends and family. And in just a few short weeks, everything seems to shift.

In line with this seasonal change, this month’s newsletter highlights some of the transitions that can occur as a science professional.

First, former NICHD fellow Dr. Mallory Smith describes her decision to leave academic research in pursuit of a science policy career. Read about her role as a science policy manager for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a position that inspired her to join Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center as the Assistant Director of Foundation Relations.

Next, in a piece by Ms. Katherine Lamb Brooks, program coordinator in the NICHD Office of Education, fellows across several training stages share highlights from their NICHD training experiences. This is an inspirational set of reflections by trainees who are about to take the next step in their professional development.

As you encounter your own points of transition during your scientific training, you’ll find many opportunities for support around NIH. Check out the Rep Report and October announcements and events to find those that are happening now and in upcoming months!

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

This newsletter is for NICHD fellows and by NICHD fellows. We want to hear from you! Please send your questions, comments, and ideas to our editor at

Dr. Mallory Smith

Mallory Smith, PhD

Mallory Smith, PhD, joined the laboratory of Roger Woodgate, PhD, Section on DNA Replication, Repair, and Mutagenesis, in August 2020. While there, she studied the mechanism of DNA damage bypass in a unique fungal species and optimized the purification of soluble tuberculosis DNA repair polymerases from E. coli.

At the end of 2021, Dr. Smith decided to pursue science policy at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), where she served as a science policy manager for about two years. Just recently, Dr. Smith accepted a new position—Assistant Director of Foundation Relations at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington.

Check out our Q&A with Dr. Smith to learn about her role as a science policy manager at ASBMB and what led her to choose this career trajectory after her postdoctoral work.

What does a science policy manager do?

As a science policy manager, I advocated for fundamental biomedical research and for the innovative scientists (from undergraduate to professor) who make cutting edge discoveries possible. In my work, I aimed to improve policies for the scientific community by engaging with Congress, the White House, federal science agencies, and other stakeholders. I actively represented the needs of America's biochemists and molecular biologists, developed policy recommendations to make research more effective and equitable, and created resources to address gaps in research and training.

What inspired you to pursue this career field?

I first learned about science policy during graduate school in 2017 when a proposed bill threatened to tax graduate students’ tuition waivers as income, potentially costing students hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. I became impassioned to speak out against the proposed law and began learning more about what it means to be an advocate for science and scientists. Before I knew it, I was president of the Graduate Student Council, serving as a student ambassador on faculty committees and founding non-profit organizations in Kansas City. I loved sitting in meetings, discussing important issues faced by scientists, and advocating for fair solutions to those problems.

What really sealed my decision to pursue science policy was when the ASBMB awarded me the opportunity in 2018 to travel to Capitol Hill and meet with Congressional offices about the importance of supporting basic science and policies that help scientists succeed. While in DC, my passion for science policy went from a solid 80 percent to a whole 100 percent.

(Check out this article for a few more details about how ASBMB shaped my career.)

What did you work on at ASBMB specifically, and what was your typical day like?

At the ASBMB, I wore a few different hats. In the Department of Public Affairs, we represented the needs of ASBMB members to diverse stakeholders, collaborated with partnering organizations, planned events and webinars, and I also managed the ASBMB Advocacy Training Program.

Day to day, I coordinated our efforts via email, including speaking with ASBMB members, federal science agency staff, Congressional office staff, internal ASBMB staff, and other partner organizations. I also spent a significant amount of time developing and writing recommendations to policymakers to improve the research enterprise. Here’s a link to various recommendations we made on behalf of ASBMB.

For the logistics of my day to day, I was able to work hybrid during the week. When on site, I had my own office (with a door!), and we had decent flexibility to complete our work around our personal schedules (for example, working from 7 a.m.–3 p.m. or 10 a.m.–6 p.m.).

What steps did you take to become a science policy manager, and what was helpful along the way?

The path to becoming a science policy manager or other positions in science policy is rather obscure. The clearest and most structured path is to do policy fellowships, which I applied to and ended up not pursuing for different reasons. While policy fellowships are a great option to formalize training in science policy, they also often necessitate a career gap year and incur a risk of not having a position at the end of the fellowship.

In my case, I had already been committed to science policy work for several years when I joined the NICHD, and Dr. Woodgate was very supportive of me continuing my interest in policy during my postdoc. I have a long list of activities and leadership roles that I embarked on over 2017–2021, but what was most impactful was:

I have several notes about navigating a transition from the bench to a science policy job:

  • There are science policy jobs that don’t require a PhD. In my case, the job description mentioned it was MS optional/preferred. If you already have a PhD, though, still apply! I used my PhD experiences constantly in the role!
  • The application process is likely to include a case study or presentation of an issue, as well as a writing sample from something targeted to non-scientific audiences (bonus points if you can send an op-ed or policy memo on an advocacy issue).
  • Science publications are generally not required, but some policy fellowships do weigh academic track record in their evaluations.

Where did you seek out mentorship in your ASBMB position?

In that position, I primarily sought out mentorship from my manager, and I also stay connected to both science and policy mentors that have supported me to-date. While seeking out new mentors can be helpful to grow, I think it’s equally important to begin being a mentor yourself (which has been a fun opportunity for me) and stay engaged with your mentors from earlier training and career stages.

Were there any workshops or programs at the NIH that helped you prepare for that position?

100%! I had a fantastic time being a part of the NIH Science Policy Discussion Group (please note, you must be logged into LinkedIn to view this page), and I also have to give credit to the NIH Fellow’s Committee who connected me to the National Postdoctoral Association. Lastly, I really valued the NIH Career Symposium, which allowed me to explore policy-related positions in the FDA and other government agencies. I didn’t really connect with those positions, but getting to explore so many jobs in one session was just amazing.

Do you have any final tips for fellows who are thinking about pursuing a similar career track?

So many thoughts! First, I’ll say that everyone’s career path is unique and science policy is not a cookie cutter path. I highly recommend doing lots of informational interviews with science policy professionals who are from similar disciplines as you. If you haven’t already, begin beefing up your leadership, organizational, and written and oral communication skills. I got mine from a lot of volunteering and a few formal experiences that really demonstrated my commitment to this career and prepared me to succeed in my role.

Lastly, I often get asked if I miss “being at the bench.” My answer is yes and no. I miss doing structural biology from my graduate work and solving crystal structures. However, dedicating my full time to my biochemistry and molecular biology scientist peers and improving the research enterprise one small policy change at a time was hugely rewarding and outweighs my nostalgia for growing crystals at the bench any day!

If you want to learn more about me, my career, or science policy in general, connect with me on LinkedIn and drop me a note!

Tuesday, October 24, 1–2 PM

Postbac Seminar Series
Speaking About Science: Giving Scientific Presentations
Public Speaking Coach, Scott Morgan

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Ms. Veronica Harker ( to register.

Friday, October 27, All Day—In Person Event!

The 18th Annual Meeting for Postdoctoral, Clinical and Visiting Fellows, Graduate Students and Postbacs

Registration required!

The main feature of our event will be all of YOU! Fellows will present their work through three different formats, including:

  • Traditional scientific posters
  • Lab showcase presentations
  • Five-minute talk presentations

Also featured in our program:

  • Morning keynote presentation
  • Exhibit booths from industry and NIH facilities/resources
  • Career panel and roundtable discussions with professionals from academe, industry, teaching, government administration, science communications, science policy, and grants management.

Register here:

Ongoing Events Around Campus

NIH-Wide Office of Intramural Training and Education 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.

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The Rep Report logoAs the current NICHD Basic Sciences Institutes and Centers (IC) Representative, I represent NICHD postdoctoral fellows at the NIH 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, Hyo Won Ahn, at


We’ve created a new page on the Newsletter Wiki for Selected FelCom Events. Near the beginning of each month, we’ll post same-month events that are announced during the monthly FelCom meetings. Check in regularly!

The Service and Outreach Subcommittee is looking for volunteers for a science outreach event in collaboration with the Washington Center for International Education. If interested, please contact Alex Vendola ( or Rachel Keith ( We are especially in need of fellows who can translate from Dari and Pashto! The event date is Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. in Riverdale, Maryland.

The Training Directors Committee introduces HSTalks, a platform that has put together structured learning journeys covering a range of different themes. A few examples include:

  • Drug Development: From Molecule to Market
  • Gene Therapy
  • AI and Biomedicine
  • Clinical Trials

Note: NIH fellows have full access to this extensive online resource. Thus, NIH fellows can take advantage of over 3,000 specially commissioned lectures and audio interviews offering a rich and diverse source of academic and industry insights.

The National Postdoctoral Association will host the 2024 NPA Annual Conference on March 15 and 16 at the Hyatt Regency Seattle, Seattle, Washington.

The 2024 NPA Meetings Committee is seeking proposals for 60-minute concurrent sessions and poster presentations to be included in the 2024 NPA Annual Conference that will provide training to assist postdoctoral associations and postdoctoral offices in the support and training of their postdoctoral scholars at their home institutions; share ideas, problems, resources, solutions, best practices, and success stories with the postdoc community; and encourage networking among conference attendees.

The Visiting Fellows Committee (VFC) has launched a new OITE VFC Webpage, new email address (, and Country Support Contacts. The committee is still looking for visiting fellows who are interested in serving as country or institute reps. If signing up (see links below), please also let Sanam Yaghoubi know by email (

Did you know that there are several ways to stay informed on postdoc activities and events?

Dr. Shreeta Chakraborty Named Best Platform Presentation Winner

Shreeta Chakraborty, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Rocha laboratory, received the best platform presentation award by a trainee at the 44th annual David W. Smith Workshop on Malformations and Morphogenesis at the end of August. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Chakraborty on this wonderful achievement.
Shreeta Chakraborty, PhD

Dr. Leah Greenspan Featured as Development Pathway to Independence Fellow

Leah Greenspan, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Weinstein laboratory, was featured as a Pathway to Independence Fellow in the September 2023 issue of Development. In an interview with the journal, Dr. Greenspan describes her NICHD research and future career plans. We encourage NICHD fellows to check out Dr. Greenspan’s interview to learn more!

Leah Greenspan, PhD

Let Us Know About Your Recent Accomplishments

We’d love to recognize your great news from 2023—from winning a poster award to landing a new job! Please email a brief description of your accomplishment(s) to our editor, Dr. Shana Spindler (, and we will include them in our December issue.

NICHD Annual Postbac Seminar Series: Professional Development and Career Exploration

The next cycle of our Annual Postbac Seminar Series begins this month!

Currently there are approximately 80 postbacs conducting clinical and basic science research in our intramural laboratories. During your one or two years of training here at the NICHD, we want you to have an enriched research experience, while at the same time growing more prepared and excited about your chosen career path.

The year’s series will take place on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. The intent is to create a comfortable environment within a small group of peers to help postbacs improve their analytical skills as scientists, while expanding their knowledge of biomedical research and its relevance to human health.

This course also focuses on professional development:

  • Learning how to present your science
  • Exploring different career trajectories
  • Meeting physicians and scientists from various clinical or research settings
  • Preparing for the medical or graduate school application cycle (including interviews!)

Upcoming sessions (to take place from 1 to 2 p.m. unless otherwise indicated):

October 24Public Speaking Coach, Scott MorganSpeaking About Science: Giving Scientific PresentationsBldg. 35, Room 610
November 7Public Speaking Coach, Scott MorganInterviewing for Professional SchoolBldg. 45, F1/F2 Conference Room

Additional sessions will be announced in upcoming newsletter issues, and via email.

If you are interested in joining the class, please email Ms. Veronica Harker ( to receive the Google Doc link for registration.

NCI Technology Transfer Ambassadors Program Accepting Applications

Deadline to apply is Wednesday, November 1

The NCI Technology Transfer Ambassadors Program (TTAP) is open to NIH postdoctoral trainees, staff scientists, staff clinicians, graduate students, and postbacs at specific Institutes and Centers, including NICHD.

TTAP is a hybrid training/mentoring program that offers participants the opportunity to augment their current research activities with 5–8 hours per week of hands-on training in biomedical invention development, commercialization, and entrepreneurship. Find more information for the program at

NIH UNITE: Ending Structural Racism (ESR) Activities

The NIH UNITE initiative was established to identify and address structural racism within the NIH-supported and the greater scientific community.

The ESR Intranet includes various resources like the ToolkitNewsletterFAQs, and other information.

UNITE Milestones and Progress and the Co-Chairs Corner (public ESR webpages) are other avenues to stay informed on UNITE efforts.

Fellows across each training stage share their accomplishments and moments of growth as they advance to their next level of training.

Each fall presents a fresh chapter for fellows at the NICHD. Often at a time of transition we allow our focus to dwell on the uncertainty that lies ahead, quickly forgetting even our most recent (and pivotal) milestones. The NICHD Office of Education recently asked departing postbac fellows and college and high school summer interns to reflect on their individual training experiences in hopes of inspiring a moment of pause and active awareness to their accomplishments.

“I’m most proud of the progress I’ve made in understanding our work in the Hoffman lab. I sometimes forget and don’t give myself enough credit for how much I’ve learned since joining the lab. I’m really proud that I am now able to ask relevant questions and think critically about the work in our field.”

Ashley Pratt
Training level: Postbac
Next step: Brown-NIH Graduate Partnership Program

“I feel accomplished having finished my first research internship. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I feel proud about not only being accepted but completing it. I have a fear of public speaking so presenting multiple times throughout this program was incredibly nerve wracking. However, after doing it so many times this summer I feel like going forward I won’t feel as anxious and that I have a bit more confidence.”

Jeanine Henry-George
Training level: Summer Intern
Next step: Brown University, Senior Year

“A major accomplishment from this summer was making and presenting a poster about my work! I learned a lot about what goes into designing and building a poster, as well as valuable insight on poster presenting and communicating effectively about research to a broad audience.

Throughout the summer, I also gained a better understanding of not just research and laboratory techniques, but also important skills such as reading research articles and interpreting data.”

Katalina Li
Training level: High School Summer Intern
Next step: Johns Hopkins University, Freshman year
Area of study: Public Health and Molecular & Cellular Biology

“I have been really excited in these last few months of my postbac to take part in a collaboration with Dr. Tom Dever’s lab by starting a mouse colony and characterizing phenotypes for a mouse model of a rare sex-linked disorder known as MEHMO syndrome. It has been incredibly rewarding to generate a model for more research into this disorder.

Separately from my postbac, this past week my former advisors and I submitted my undergraduate thesis work to Frontiers in Plant Science, which, if accepted, will be my first publication, and a first authorship at that!”

Rachel Muti
Training level: Postbac
Next step: Emory University, PhD Program
Area of study: Genetics and Molecular Biology

“It was amazing meeting so many diverse people and learning from them. I spent a lot of my time optimizing and exploring different strategies for single-particle Cryogenic Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) computational processing. I'm excited to share that I resolved a 1.65 Å apoferritin map! It was only possible with all the amazing, patient mentorship I received. I am grateful to have gained valuable research experience while having fun and learning so much!”

Jasmin Wu
Training level: High School Summer Intern
Next step: High School, Senior Year

“One accomplishment that I am proud of from this past year is presenting at Postbac Poster Day and getting an Outstanding Poster Award.”

Summer Khan
Training level: Postbac
Next step: Albany Medical College, MD Program

“My time in the Matthies Lab was the most fascinating, mind-blowing experience I have had thus far, to say the least. The members of the lab, my mentor Dr. Louis Tung Faat Lai, and of course Dr. Doreen Matthies, are some of the kindest, most brilliant individuals I have ever met. From the second I stepped foot into the lab, they ensured that I was learning and absorbing as much knowledge as I could. From our lunches in the kitchen to our weekly lab meetings, they made every effort to make me feel part of the group and made it feel like my second family. Special shoutout to my mentor Dr. Lai, who so kindly supported me through every step of my internship. He will always hold a special place in my life given how much he has taught me from both a research lens and from a practical aspect. He always encouraged me to learn new techniques and fostered my curiosity. From conducting protein purifications and performing different assays, I was able to master new techniques and contribute directly to experiments. I was delighted to present my work at the NIH Summer Poster Day where I also saw the incredible work of other summer interns and spoke to other knowledgeable researchers. I am so honored and grateful that I could help contribute to one of Dr. Lai's papers which is now under review in Nature Communications. I could not have asked for a better mentor and am so happy I had the opportunity to intern at the Matthies Lab at the NICHD/NIH. I am headed back to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for my sophomore year in college, carrying the wealth of knowledge I gained from this experience.”

Jayashree Balaraman
Training level: Summer Intern
Next step: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Sophomore Year

“I will bring with me the fascinating interplay between evolutionary genetics and biomedical problem solving. During my internship I made friends, valued my hands on mentoring experience with postdoc Dr. Rachel Cosby, and gained enormous confidence for my future graduate studies. I aim to present this research at national conferences, such as American Society for Cell Biology and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists, and plan to stay in touch with the Macfarlan lab long after my summer here in Bethesda.”

Training level: Summer Intern
Next step: Stanford University, Biology PhD Program

NICHD summer interns presenting their research at the annual NIH Summer Poster Days

Natcher Conference Center, Bethesda Campus
Friday, August 4

Photos by Dr. Erin Walsh, unless otherwise noted

Poster session attendees chatting

An intern chats with Erin Walsh

NICHD Office of Education Director Dr. Erin Walsh with summer intern Jayashree Balaraman of the Matthies laboratory, Unit on Structural Biology. Photo courtesy of Dr. Doreen Matthies.

An intern explains her poster to Dr. McBain

NICHD Scientific Director Dr. Chris McBain with summer intern Katie Li of the Stopfer laboratory, Section on Sensory Coding and Neural Ensembles. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kui Sun.

A summer intern, wearing a blue plaid shirt,stands with her poster

A summer intern, dressed in khakis and a dusty pink polo shirt, stands with his poster

A young woman wearing a black blazer stands with her research poster

A high-angle photo of poster presenters and attendees

A summer intern gestures towards her poster as she explains her work to onlookers

A summer intern discusses her poster with a young man

An intern wearing a burnt orange top and long gold necklace smiles next to her poster

A summer intern wears a striped button down shirt and a wide, beaming smile as he stands with his poster

Summer interns look over a research poster

A young man stands with his poster featuring a zebrafish illustration

An intern stands near her poster

A fellow discusses his poster with a P.I.

The Rep Report logo

As the current NICHD Basic Sciences Institutes and Centers (IC) Representative, I represent NICHD postdoctoral fellows at the NIH 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, Hyo Won Ahn, at


We’ve created a new page on the Fellows Wiki for Selected FelCom Events. Near the beginning of each month, we’ll post same-month events that are announced during the monthly FelCom meetings. Check in regularly!

The NIH Research Festival is back in person after a three-year hiatus. The event will take place September 18–22, 2023! Please visit the NIH Research Festival website for the General Schedule of Events.

This year’s Postdoc & Fellow Appreciation Week is the week of September 18–22, 2023. OITE is organizing several social events, careers seminars, and networking events in honor of the week (keep an eye on your email for days, times, and locations). For more information, or if you are interested in helping out, please contact Emily Summerbell (

The Fellows Safety Committee is planning to host an open house focused on celebrating International Biosafety and Biosecurity Month in October. Keep an eye out for more information as the date approaches! The committee is looking for more participation in their events, so please help spread the word. Various leadership positions within the committee will be open soon. If you are interested, please reach out to Anna SantaMaria (

The Visiting Fellows Committee has a secretary position and a social sub-committee position open. If interested, please contact Harrison Daly (

Did you know that there are several ways to stay informed on postdoc activities and events?