March 23-24, 2017

Meeting Agenda

Meeting Summary


Co-sponsored by:

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network     

Kavli Foundation                                            W.M. Keck Foundation

Kenneth Rainin Foundation                          Arthritis National Research Foundation


Please click on the session title for:

  • session descriptions
  • speaker bios please
  • PDFs of speaker presentations
Thursday March 23
Friday March 24
Altmetrics (optional session) Small Group Discussions over breakfast
Welcome to the Members’ Meeting Addressing Inefficiencies to Accelerate Future Clinical Trials
Successful Implementation of Open Science and Data Sharing Convergence:  Platform Technologies to Accelrate Life Science Discovery
Demystifying Indirect Cost in Funder Agreements Private Philanthropy and Biomedical Research:  Fresh Perspectives from a New Generation of Donors
Highlighting our Sponsors Putting Grants Data to Work:  Practical Approaches to Evaluation
HRA News and Updates


Thursday March 23:

11:00am – 12:00pm: Altmetrics (Optional Session)

It’s been over five years since the term “alt-metrics” was coined and the metrics landscape has radically altered in that time. Research producers and funders, from large academic institutions to global funders to small nonprofits and institutes, are using these new metrics in ways not thought of even two years ago.

We’ve found organizations are continuously discovering new and innovative ways to use Altmetric data for everything from competitive intelligence to tech transfer to finding new clinical trials communities to evaluating grant applications.

This session will review key use cases we’ve seen in the last year across all the major sectors we support: academic, corporate, government, funder, and nonprofits – with emphasis on how nonprofits and foundations are using altmetric data – including HRA Members.

In this session, we will cover:
• What are altmetrics.
• How altmetrics are being used by foundations and nonprofits today, including examples from foundations/nonprofits like the John Templeton Foundation.

Presentation by Sara Rouhi and Monika Dunbar

Monika Dunbar
Monika Dunbar joined the ÜberResearch team in the beginning of 2017 as the Director, Nonprofits and Foundations, North America. The new position at ÜberResearch is an extension of her more than 15 years of experience serving research funders and grantmakers. She spent the first half of her career working as a grant manager for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and later the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Monika spent the second half of her career serving as the head of Altum’s proposalCENTRAL product where she worked with over 100 non-profits and foundations assisting with their grants management operations using proposalCENTRAL. With her new role at ÜberResearch she continues supporting the missions of research funders. Monika lives in northern VA with her husband and new baby daughter. Before the arrival of her daughter, Monika spent her free time working out, cooking, reading, movies, etc. Now, she enjoys working to get a few smiles and giggles.

Sara Rouhi
Sara Rouhi manages business development for Altmetric’s non-academic business in the US and Canada. Sara launched Altmetric’s institutional presence in 2014 signing its first academic customer, the University of Cambridge in the UK, and is currently responsible for expanding Altmetric’s product and services offerings into the corporate, government agency, and funder spaces bringing on such organizations as the  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the National Academies of Science, the World Bank, and many others.

In addition to her business development role, she has expanded Altmetric’s institutional offerings to include bespoke consultancy, data, and analytics services. She’s also developed a suite of training and support offerings to ensure these new markets have robust support as they explore how these new metrics can support their organizations. 

 In her infinite free time, Sara travels globally speaking on scholarly communications, metrics, and open access. She is an active member of the Society of Scholarly Publishing’s Education Committee, a recipient of the Society’s 2015 Emerging Leader award, and a published author of peer reviewed research on metrics. She also performs stand up and improvisational comedy in the DC area.  Follow her on twitter @RouhiRoo

1:00pm – 1:15pm:  Welcome to the Members’ Meeting and Introductions

1:15pm – 2:30pm:  Successful Implementation of Open Science and Data Sharing

The use of online platforms for researchers to openly share data with their colleagues, as well as the public, is a concept that is gaining growing interest among the scientific community. While important strides have been made in encouraging the use of data-sharing platforms in the interest of advancing scientific discovery and research reproducibility, there remain barriers to universal adoption and acceptance of such platforms. For example, the practical concerns of the researcher about whether openly-shared data will put them at a competitive disadvantage, or be potentially misused or misinterpreted. Further complicating the adoption of data-sharing is the lack of knowledge about which platforms one should use to share data, what data should be shared on the platform, and the value of contributing to such a platform. In this session, we will learn what we as funders can do to encourage and educate our scientists about the utility of data-sharing, as well as educate ourselves on best practices for data-sharing. The key note speaker will discuss the function of several data sharing platforms, and provide insights on the advantages and disadvantages of different platforms. Several HRA members will share their experiences in encouraging, and even mandating, the use of data-sharing by their grantees. A panel discussion will follow, with the goal of encouraging an open dialogue among attendees about how funders can encourage and support open science by facilitating data sharing by their grantees. Topics of discussion will include whether members encourage or require data-sharing by their grantees, what is the typical period of exclusivity for the data, what the response from grantees has been, and how funding organizations have addressed these challenges.

Moderated by Shannon Gallagher-Colombo, PhD
Shannon Gallagher-Colombo received her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from Thomas Jefferson University in 2009, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was involved in basic, preclinical, and clinical research investigating the use of photodynamic therapy as a treatment option for solid malignancies. Her postdoctoral work specifically focused on determining the influence of cell signaling on photodynamic therapy efficacy, and the use of molecular targeting agents in combination with photodynamic therapy to improve therapeutic outcomes. In her current role as a senior program administrator at the AACR, Gallagher-Colombo applies her scientific background to grants administration. She provides scientific support to the AACR’s non-SU2C grants portfolio, including scientific review of grantee progress, interacting with grantees and funders to address areas of need, and providing additional scientific expertise as needed. She is serves as a member of the Program Committee.

Presentation by Robert L. Grossman, PhD
Robert L. Grossman has been a leader in the field data science, open data and data sharing for over 25 years.  He is the principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute Genomic Data Commons (GDC), a five-petabyte data sharing platform containing detailed genomic and associated clinical data on the tumors of over 14,000 patients.  He has also developed data commons and data sharing platforms for several other research communities, including the general science community (Open Science Data Cloud), environmental science (OCC-NOAA Environmental Data Commons and NASA’s Project Matsu), and liquid biopsies (BloodPAC Data Commons).  He is the Frederick H. Rawson Professor at the University of Chicago and Co-Chief of the Section of Computational Biomedicine and Biomedical Data Science in the Department of Medicine.  He is also the Director of the Center for Data Intensive Science and the Chief Research Informatics Officer (CRIO) of the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago.

Presentation by Salvatore La Rosa, PhD
Salvatore La Rosa, PhD, is Vice President of Research and Development at the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) and he is responsible for the implementation of the Foundation’s business strategy into research projects. He manages the foundation’s research activities, providing scientific and knowledgeable review of discovery, preclinical and early development programs in the field of Neurofibromatosis (NF). Dr. La Rosa is responsible for the development and management of novel partnerships and initiatives with academic research groups and biotech/pharma companies which could address unmet needs in the field. Besides the activities of compound scouting and grants management, he is involved in ad-hoc collaborative research programs, CRO selection and management, as well as preclinical testing consortia. Dr. La Rosa’s team acts as project manager for the Synodos program, totaling $9M in three years investment, totaling 5 highly integrated projects, more than 30 Principal Investigators and 20 different institutions. He has co-authored more than 20 peer-review research articles and served as Group Leader and Project Leader for Siena Biotech (Italy), Nikem Research (Italy) and Evotec (UK). He holds a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (Scotland, UK) and MSc in Organic Chemistry from the University of Messina (Italy).

Presentation by Justin Guinney, PhD
Dr. Guinney is the Director of Computational Oncology at Sage Bionetworks. His research is focused on the development of integrative modeling approaches in cancer using large-scale biomedical and high-throughput genomic data. Aligned with Sage’s mission of promoting open science and data sharing, Dr. Guinney has been a part of several large data sharing initiatives in cancer, including the Colorectal Cancer Molecular Subtyping Consortium, AACR Project GENIE, and the Neo-epitope Prediction Consortium. Dr. Guinney is co-director of the DREAM Challenges, and has led several challenges related to cancer prognosis, combination therapy, and image analysis.

3:00pm – 4:15pm: Demystifying Indirect Cost in Funder Agreements

As you work on your grant agreements and contracts, do you ever wonder what those “indirect costs” or “F & A costs” are and what should be included?  There is no universal rule for classifying certain costs as either direct or indirect (F&A) under every accounting system. A cost may be direct with respect to some specific service or function, but indirect with respect to a government award or other final cost objective. There is a growing gap between funding organizations and academic institutions regarding classification of indirect costs in non-governmental sponsored projects.  As HRA explores defining indirect costs, this session will focus on understanding the current challenges funding organizations and academic institutions face regarding indirect cost definitions and rates. The session will also discuss different strategies used by HRA members and academic institutions to resolve problems associated with indirect costs.  This session will include a moderated panel discussion of experts from both sides of the issue and aims to manage expectations and develop strategies to foster productive conversations toward solutions that will be acceptable to all stakeholders.

Background reading materials:

Moderated by Anita Pepper, PhD
Anita Pepper, Ph.D., is Vice President of Institutional Advancement at The Wistar Institute, a role she has held since 2015. Dr. Pepper develops and implements strategic fundraising opportunities to strengthen and cultivate individual and philanthropic support and creates new, complementary relationships with individual, corporate and nonprofit partners. Since joining Wistar, Dr. Pepper has overseen a variety of new programs and fundraising platforms, including the Wistar Science Discovery Fund, which connects philanthropists with scientists in order to solve the issues that are most important to them in a more direct and personal way, and the Women and Science Program, an initiative that highlights the fundamental role that basic and and clinical research plays in addressing the scientific challenges related to women’s health.

Prior to joining Wistar, Dr. Pepper was the Director of the Pew Biomedical Programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts. For eight years, she oversaw all aspects of Pew’s biomedical research programs including, the Pew Scholars Program, the Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research Program and the Pew Latin American Fellows Program. In this role, Dr. Pepper contributed scientific expertise to guide the existing programs’ policies related to external advisory committees, program participants and networks. She worked with clients and philanthropic partners to support, design, implement and administer programs, and she helped to raise 10.7M to support biomedical research through the Pew programs.

Dr. Pepper graduated with a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Cornell University. She holds an M.S. in Molecular Systematics from New York University and the New York Botanical Garden, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Genetics from New York University. Upon graduation, Dr. Pepper became a postdoctoral research fellow at Fox Chase Cancer Center and investigated gene expression. She later joined the Department of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania as a postdoctoral fellow and conducted research on fragile X syndrome.

Presentation by Sally O’Neil
Sally O’Neil is Director of the Industrial Contracts Office (ICO) at Stanford University.  ICO negotiates a variety of research agreements with companies, including sponsored research and other related agreements, working with our parent Office of Technology Licensing. Sally also coordinates agreements with intellectual property terms for other university research agreements. A member of the California Bar and the ABA, Sally is active in AUTM and several university and industry intellectual property and research groups. Her webpage:

Presentation by William Chambers, PhD
William H. [Bill] Chambers, PhD, assumed the role of Senior Vice President, Extramural Research in March, 2014. He is responsible for the strategic direction of the Society’s Extramural Research and Health Professional Training Programs, which encompasses 6 research and training programs across the cancer continuum from research in the most basic areas of cancer, to research on health policy. Each year, the extramural research and training programs carry out peer review of ~1800 applications, and management of approximately 900 grants totaling in excess of $470M. In addition, Dr. Chambers directs the Research and Clinical Research Professor Programs.  Dr. Chambers also has oversight of the Council for Extramural Research which defines pay-lines for research funding, and makes final selections of applications which are funded.

Dr. Chambers joined the ACS in 2008 as Scientific Program Director for the Clinical Cancer Research and Immunology Program. In that capacity, he managed the development of the Society’s cancer research and training programs in the areas of nutrition and cancer, environmental oncology, clinical cancer research, epidemiology, leukemia, blood cell development and tumor immunology.

Dr. Chambers received a PhD in immunology from Auburn University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Vanderbilt University, School of Medicine, and at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, specializing in tumor immunology. He subsequently served on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine and as a Member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute for more than 20 years. He has been involved in basic research in non-adaptive and adaptive immunity; and in translational research investigating the use of adoptive cellular immunotherapy and of cytokine gene therapy for the treatment of tumors. Dr. Chambers has published widely on these topics.

Dr. Chambers has been the recipient of research support from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Fogarty International Center, the Health and Human Behavior Network of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and a 21st Century Scientist Research Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation for research in immunotherapy of primary brain tumors. In addition to his research and teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, he served as the Interim Deputy Director for Basic Research, and as Associate Director for Basic Research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, which is an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Presentation by Louise Perkins, PhD
Dr. Perkins joined the Melanoma Research Alliance as Chief Science Officer in 2013 where she is responsible for the development and implementation of the MRA’s scientific strategy including its research award program and annual Scientific Retreat. Her interests center on translational research including genomics, drug discovery and advancement of novel therapeutic approaches. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research and of the Health Research Alliance. Prior to joining the MRA, she was Chief Scientific Officer at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) for five years, following a 16-year research career at two major pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Perkins led the expansion of MMRF venture philanthropy activities including its Biotech Investment Award program and development of the scientific direction of its CoMMpass longitudinal study. At Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Perkins was Director of Cancer Research where she contributed to advancing novel targeted therapies toward clinical study including Nexavar and other innovative signal transduction inhibitors. Before joining Bayer, she led a cancer research group at the Schering-Plough Research Institute participating in early-stage programs, including novel target-finding using human genomics data. Dr. Perkins graduated from the University of Michigan with a PhD and MS in Biological Chemistry and conducted postdoctoral studies at Princeton University in the Department of Molecular Biology. She earned her BS in Zoology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Presentation (no slides) by Chris Percopo, MPA
Christopher Percopo serves as the Director of Grants Management and Special Program Operations at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. As one of Helmsley’s first staff members, he has served in a variety of capacities in collaboration with staff, external consultants, and the trustees, and has seen the organization grow from a staff of three to the philanthropic organization it is today. As Director of Grants Management, Chris oversees the entire lifecycle of Helmsley’s grantmaking, and his team provides technical assistance to internal and external audiences, ensuring that all grants remain compliant and are monitored. This includes managing the online grant process, overseeing the grants database, creating and maintaining policies and procedures, and developing training materials. His department’s central role in Helmsley’s grantmaking means he plays an active role in reporting within the organization and beyond. The grants management team also plays a key role in the grant testing portion of the annual audit, tracking grant-related budgets, and predicting cash needs for the organization. In his role overseeing Special Program Operations, Chris works across programs and is involved in launching new strategic initiatives.

Prior to joining Helmsley, Chris primarily worked as a fundraiser for various nonprofits. In addition to fundraising, he supported other critical endeavors, such as developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for social service programs, developing and executing strategic plans, facilitating a merger to eliminate duplicative administrative functions for organizations with similar missions, and assisting with the drafting of bylaws and governance for board development.

Chris graduated from the George Washington University with a B.A. in Human Services (Nonprofit Management) and has a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. His passion for public service has led him to present and train on a number of topics, ranging from process development to nontraditional grantmaking, change management, and building efficient practices. He serves on nonprofit boards, including the Grants Managers Network. Outside of work, Chris enjoys skiing, traveling, cooking, and is a licensed marriage officiant in New York.

4:15pm – 5:15pm: Highlighting our Sponsors

Presentation by Helene Belisle
Helene Belisle has been Executive Director of the Arthritis National Research Foundation since 1996, helping guide the organization to its current focus as the only charity dedicated solely to funding research to cure arthritis. In 1998, Ms. Belisle helped develop a Scientific Advisory Board of world-renowned scientists and physicians, who provide the expertise for the organization’s annual grant review process. She joined the organization after four years as the Development Director for a Long Beach, CA non-profit organization. Prior to entering the non-profit field, Ms. Belisle was a marketing executive for a real estate investment firm. Born on the East coast but now considering herself a California native, Ms. Belisle met her husband and earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wyoming. She and her husband of 38 years reside in Southern California.

“It is a joy to work with such a dedicated board of directors who have developed the Arthritis National Research Foundation into a recognized and respected organization committed to funding the brightest scientists with the best prospects for helping the victims of these debilitating diseases,” says Belisle. “When I saw how juvenile arthritis robbed my little cousin of her childhood, I knew I wanted to do something so that others would not have to suffer as she did. Research holds the key to a better life for millions in our country who face each day in pain.”

Presentation by Miyoung Chun, PhD
Dr. Miyoung Chun is the Executive Vice President of Science Programs at The Kavli Foundation. Dr. Chun’s career spans a wide range of experience in academia and industry. Her academic career began as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine in 1995. There she taught in the areas of cell biology and molecular medicine, and conducted research in signal transduction of G-protein coupled receptors.  From 1999 to 2004 she worked for Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. as a scientist and project leader, where her research focused on genomics/functional genomics and on molecular imaging in drug discovery and development.  She discovered and characterized novel genes that are important to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, and has over 30 U.S. and International issued/published patents. In 2004 she moved back to academia as Assistant Dean of Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and in this role she built partnerships among academia, government and industry around the globe. She joined The Kavli Foundation in 2007. Dr. Chun obtained her Ph.D. degree in Molecular Genetics from The Ohio State University in 1990 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT’s Whitehead Institute studying the cell and molecular biology of receptors.

Presentation by Jackie Hausman
Jackie Hausman, joined the Kenneth Rainin Foundation as the Program Officer for Health in 2014. She manages the Health Program grants portfolio, which supports novel, high risk research projects on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Jackie also leads the annual Innovations Symposium, a one-of-a-kind event that gathers leading researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines to foster innovative and creative thinking about IBD.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Jackie worked at the University of California, Davis (UCD) Center for Health and Technology, where she directed the Model eHealth Communities program, a statewide initiative to improve access to health care in rural and other underserved communities through the use of telehealth and eHealth, and she managed the pediatric telehealth program at UCD. Prior to her work at UCD, Jackie was the Children’s Health Program Officer at First 5 Yolo Children and Families Commission, where she directed an initiative on access to quality health care, launched early childhood mental health and oral health initiatives, and managed policy activities for the Commission.

Jackie holds Master’s degrees in both Public Policy and Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Presentation by Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
Julie Fleshman serves as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s President and CEO.  In 1999, Julie lost her father to pancreatic cancer and is committed to changing the course of this deadly disease. She became the organization’s first full-time staff person and Executive Director in 2000. In 2004, the Board of Directors appointed Julie as President and CEO. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has grown to a staff of over 140 with offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The organization funds cutting-edge research and provides innovative services to people affected by pancreatic cancer.

Presentation by Maria Pellegrini, PhD
Dr. Maria Pellegrini is the Executive Director for Programs at the W.M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles. She is the former Vice President for Research at Brandeis University and prior to that was the Program Director for Science and Engineering and the Liberal Arts at the Keck Foundation. Before joining the Keck Foundation Dr. Pellegrini spent 20 years on the faculty of the University of Southern California as Professor of Biology. During that time, she served as department chair for five years, and as Dean of Research in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Her research interests were in the field of protein synthesis.  She was a fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the recipient of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher Scholar Award. Dr. Pellegrini received her BA in Chemistry from Connecticut College, and her PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech. Dr. Pellegrini currently serves on the Boards of the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, the USC-Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and is a trustee of Connecticut College.

6:00pm – ? :  Reception and Dinner at Shade Redondo Beach

Friday March 24:

7:45am – 9:00am: Small Group Discussions over breakfast

    • Research Workforce and Early Career Development Working Group: Location: TERRACE B
    • Grants Administration Interest Group:  Location: TERRACE A
    • Networking breakfast. Location: main meeting space

9:00am – 10:30am: Addressing Inefficiencies to Accelerate Future Clinical Trials

Presenters will share information about their role and strategies to accelerate clinical trials. Individual panel members will discuss their approaches in precision medicine and in the identification, validation and regulatory acceptance of clinical trial endpoints. Internal resources, partnerships, funding mechanisms used, and challenges will be presented to inform funders considering ways in which they can contribute to the acceleration of therapies for their disease areas of interest.

Moderated by Sindy Escobar-Alvarez, PhD
Sindy N. Escobar Alvarez is the Senior Program Officer for Medical Research at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). DDCF is a private foundation with the mission to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being. At DDCF, she oversees the peer-reviewed selection and post-award monitoring of grants for two programs: The Clinical Scientist Development Award for early-career physician scientists and a grant portfolio supporting innovations in sickle cell disease research. She is also co-chair of the Early Career Scientist and Open Science Working groups of the Health Research Alliance, a coalition of non-governmental funders of health research. She is a doctoral graduate of the Pharmacology Department of Cornell University Weill Graduate School and post-graduate alumnus of Sloan-Kettering Institute.

Presentation by Stephen Joel Coons, PhD
Stephen Joel Coons is Executive Director of the Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) Consortium at Critical Path Institute (C-Path).  C-Path, an independent, non-profit organization established the PRO Consortium in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry for the purpose of developing, evaluating, and qualifying PRO measures for the assessment of clinical trial endpoints. Stephen earned BS (University of Connecticut), MS, MEd, and PhD (University of Arizona) degrees and his post-doctoral training was completed at the University of California, San Diego.  Stephen joined C-Path after a 23-year academic career.  He is a fellow in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona.

Presentation by Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
Julie Fleshman serves as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s President and CEO.  In 1999, Julie lost her father to pancreatic cancer and is committed to changing the course of this deadly disease. She became the organization’s first full-time staff person and Executive Director in 2000. In 2004, the Board of Directors appointed Julie as President and CEO. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has grown to a staff of over 140 with offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The organization funds cutting-edge research and provides innovative services to people affected by pancreatic cancer.

Presentation by Mary DeRome
Mary DeRome joined MMRF as Translational Research Manager in February 2014. In this role she was responsible for managing the MMRF research grant programs and helped manage the MMRF CoMMpass trial, an 8 year study of 1000 Multiple Myeloma patients, as well as a number of other MMRF precision medicine initiatives. Mary was recently promoted to Director of Medical Communications and Education, where she oversees all MMRF patient and professional education initiatives and is responsible for scientific content on the MMRF website, press releases, and social media channels. Prior to her current position, Mary spent twelve years as a Senior Investigator in oncology drug discovery at Bayer HealthCare in West Haven CT and seven years as Senior Scientist in nanotechnology vaccine development at Artificial Cell Technologies in New Haven CT. Mary received her BS in chemistry, did graduate work in Pharmacology, and received her MS in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Connecticut, Storrs CT/University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington CT.

11:00am – 12:15pm: Convergence:  Platform Technologies to Accelerate Life Science Discovery

From :  “Convergence is the integration of engineering, physical sciences, computation, and life sciences—with profound benefits for medicine and health, energy, and environment.”  In this session, speakers actively practicing convergence from the perspectives of philanthropy, government, physical science, and life science, will describe the lessons learned and insights for future approaches to accelerate discovery across the broad range of HRA member interests.  Ideas for how to implement these approaches will be summarized and discussed so that HRA members in the audience can put them in place should they wish.

Moderated By Chris Martin, PhD
Chris Martin’s interests span the continuum from physics to public policy. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Martin was a professor of physics and astronomy at Oberlin College (2004-2013) where he studied the Milky Way Galaxy using the Herschel Space Observatory, long duration balloon missions, and telescopes around the world. During his tenure at Oberlin, he spent a year as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Fellow with the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and was involved in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, space policy, nanotechnology, and the federal funding of science research. Dr. Martin completed his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the University of California Santa Barbara in 1999, and then became the Station Science Leader at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and spent two years wintering over at the bottom of the Earth during his postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Since joining The Kavli Foundation in 2012, Dr. Martin has played a key role in the development of the U.S. BRAIN Initiative, the National Microbiome Initiative, Neurodata Without Borders, and the International Brain Initiative, as well as a wide range of programs bridging the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics.

Presentation by Marcia McNutt, PhD
Marcia McNutt (B.A. in physics, Colorado College; Ph.D. in earth sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography) is a geophysicist and the 22nd president of the National Academy of Sciences. From 2013 to 2016, she was editor-in-chief of Science journals. McNutt was director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 2009 to 2013, during which time USGS responded to a number of major disasters, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For her work to help contain that spill, McNutt was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Service Medal. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Geological Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Association of Geodesy. Her honors include membership in the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998, McNutt was awarded the AGU’s Macelwane Medal for research accomplishments by a young scientist, and she received the Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her contributions to deep-sea exploration. 

Presentation by Maria Pellegrini, PhD
Dr. Maria Pellegrini is the Executive Director for Programs at the W.M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles. She is the former Vice President for Research at Brandeis University and prior to that was the Program Director for Science and Engineering and the Liberal Arts at the Keck Foundation. Before joining the Keck Foundation Dr. Pellegrini spent 20 years on the faculty of the University of Southern California as Professor of Biology. During that time, she served as department chair for five years, and as Dean of Research in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Her research interests were in the field of protein synthesis.  She was a fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the recipient of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher Scholar Award. Dr. Pellegrini received her BA in Chemistry from Connecticut College, and her PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech. Dr. Pellegrini currently serves on the Boards of the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, the USC-Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and is a trustee of Connecticut College.

Presentation by Jennifer Hall, PhD
Dr. Jennifer Hall graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1995 with a Ph.D. in physiology, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford and Harvard Schools of Medicine. She now serves as the Chief of The Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine for the American Heart Association. Dr. Hall is the immediate past Chair of the Functional Genomics and Translational Biology Council of the American Heart Association. She recently served on other National and International Committees including the National Heart Lung and Blood Parent Committee, the AHA Steering Committee, the DNA Framingham Committee, and the Genome Canada Review Board (past Chair for Cardiovascular group).  Dr. Hall was an associate editor of JACC from 2009-2016 and was the founding editor in chief of the Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research.

Presentation by Chris Martin, PhD
see above

12:15pm – 12:45pm: Private Philanthropy and Biomedical Research:  Fresh Perspectives from a New Generation of Donors

Emerging philanthropists on the West Coast, many of whom are from the technology sector, have announced ambitious projects to support biomedical research in bold and innovative ways. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have made a $3 billion commitment over the next 10 years to “cure, prevent, or manage all diseases in our children’s lifetime.” As part of that commitment, $600 million has been pledged to create the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) Biohub, a collaborative network of scientists and engineers from Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco. Facebook co-founder Sean Parker has also pledged $600 million to create a cancer immunotherapy institute as part of the Parker Foundation. In this session we will hear from Valerie Conn, Vice President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, a community of funders with a mission to increase private funding for basic science research. How will these new initiatives accelerate, transform or even disrupt traditional models of biomedical funding? How do they set strategies and priorities for their funding in basic science? What are some opportunities for HRA member organizations or practices that HRA members can consider?

Moderated by Kevin Lee
Dr. Lee is Senior Scientific and Programmatic Advisor to the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research. In that role he assists in guiding and coordinating the Foundation’s scientific mission to extend the healthy, productive years of life through research on the biological mechanisms of aging. He also serves as Executive Director of the Lawrence Ellison Foundation (formerly the Ellison Medical Foundation), a philanthropic organization supporting biomedical research on the fundamental mechanisms of aging, age-related diseases, and neuroscience. The Foundation was established by Lawrence Ellison, the Executive Chairman and founding CEO of Oracle Corporation. Dr Lee is Senior Advisor for Medical Research for the JPB Foundation, and Chief Scientific Officer for the Grace Science Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to understanding and developing treatments for NGLY1 deficiency and other related genetic conditions.

Dr. Lee is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received his Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His career spans over 25 years of research experience in molecular genetics and neurobiology in biotechnology, academic research and not-for-profit settings. He served previously as Deputy Executive Director of the Ellison Medical Foundation from 2007-2012. Prior to joining the Ellison Medical Foundation, Dr. Lee was Executive Vice President-Research of Sentigen Biosciences. He was responsible for the start-up and development of this New York City-based biotechnology company leading to its acquisition by Invitrogen Corporation in 2006. He has served as a member of the Scientific Review Board for the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative in New York. Dr. Lee’s scientific research career employed genetic approaches to learn how neurons in the brain are “wired up” during development to make functional circuits that relay sensory information and control behavior. He worked with Dr. Thomas Jessell in the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University, where he studied the specification, axonal projection, and functional connectivity of nerve cells in the spinal cord. He is the recipient of biotechnology patents and is the author of numerous research publications.

Presentation by Valerie Conn
Valerie Conn is the vice president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance.  She brings 25 years of experience working with philanthropists, foundations, and corporations to fund science, medicine, engineering, and education initiatives.  Her work for the Alliance concentrates on building the community of funders for basic science by advising individuals and foundation on how to strategically support basic science as a significant portion of their philanthropic portfolio.  During her decade at the University of Chicago, Valerie led teams in the Physical Sciences Division, as well as university strategic initiatives, including mapping and implementing the strategy for partnership development, resource development, and marketing for the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Computation Institute.  Prior to joining the Alliance, Valerie was the Vice President of Strategy for the B612 Foundation.  Valerie began her career at the Illinois Institute of Technology, after which she led a campaign for medical research at Children’s Memorial Medical Research Center in Chicago.


12:45pm – 2:00pm: Lunch: Small Group Discussions or networking

  • Open Science Task Force: Location: TERRACE B
  • Networking lunch:  Location: TERRACE A

2:00pm – 3:30pm: Putting Grants Data to Work:  Practical Approaches to Evaluation

At the heart of grantmaking is the desire to bring about positive change. For HRA members, it means maximizing the impact of biomedical research to improve human health. As funders, we are being increasingly tasked with evaluating our grant giving to understand if what we’re doing works and especially what works well. In previous HRA meetings, we have heard different approaches funders have used to help answer these questions — how they are assessing their grant programs to determine the return on their investments, to improve grantee performance, inform future grantmaking and demonstrate responsible stewardship to donors and the public. This session continues this effort and presents other options for our toolkit. Member speakers will share experiences evaluating their grants programs, how results are communicated with their different stakeholders and lessons learned. Presentations will address the use of different bibliometrics and “scientometrics” for measuring grantee performance and scholarly and scientific impacts or contributions of grants, and how these data are evaluated and visually presented to help tell a compelling story.

Moderated by Jenna Koschnitzky, PhD
Jenna Koschnitzky, PhD the Director of Research Programs at the Hydrocephalus Association (HA) where she supports the work of two clinical networks, runs the HA Network for Discovery Science, and is responsible for all grant and research related activities of the Association. Dr. Koschnitzky joined HA in July 2014 after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute where she studied maternal health and preterm birth. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Neuroscience from Wake Forest University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Academic Honor Society. In 2011, she received her Doctorate of Philosophy with a concentration in Neuroscience from Northwestern University. Jenna’s dissertation was focused on the electrical properties of motoneurons in a mouse model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Presentation by Katie Hickling
Katie Hickling has worked for PLOS, the world’s largest completely Open Access science publisher, since 2009. Working as Editorial Manager for PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine, Katie managed biomedical research submissions through editorial research evaluation and peer review, publication, and post publication processes. Now as Product Manager, Katie oversees PLOS’ Article Level Metrics as a Product Manager at PLOS. PLOS displays Article Level Metrics on every article (citation counters, views, pdf downloads, social media counts and news coverage) and strongly believes these kind of metrics simply provide more information for research and grant evaluation than numbers that aim to assess a publication and not an individual piece of research, such as the impact factor. Katie will be sharing thoughts and experiences from PLOS on altmetrics and research evaluation.

Presentation by Micah Moughon
Micah Moughon is the Research Information Manager with the American Heart Association. He provides statistical information and reports related to American Heart Association scientific research to internal and external audiences. He also maintains the data platforms used to manage American Heart Association scientific research. He graduated with a degree in accounting from Cedarville University in 2013 and joined the American Heart Association in 2014.

Presentation by Kari Wojtanik, PhD
Dr. Kari Wojtanik joined Susan G. Komen in October 2011. Since that time she has served as Research Program Evaluator, Evaluation Manager, and is currently Sr. Manager, Evaluation & Outcomes. In this role, Dr. Wojtanik oversees the strategic planning and implementation of evaluation efforts for Komen’s scientific research programs.  She manages a team responsible for monitoring and evaluation of key research program accomplishments and outcomes, and assesses promising discoveries from the Komen research portfolio for Komen staff, scientific and public audiences. Prior to joining Komen, Dr. Wojtanik was an Evaluation Analyst for NOVA Research and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). During this time she designed and directed outcome evaluations for biomedical research programs, conducted in-depth research portfolio analyses to provide strategic recommendations for research investments, and assessed and interpreted major cancer advances for dissemination to the United States Congress, NCI senior leadership, and scientific and lay audiences. Dr. Wojtanik earned a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Physiology from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Dr. Wojtanik is currently based in the Boston area.

Presentation by Rachel Witsamen, MPH, PMP
Rachel Witsaman, MPH, PMP, is a Program Officer in the Evaluation and Analysis department at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  Rachel supports strategic portfolio analysis by managing the development and application of the funded portfolio taxonomy, as well as performing analyses of the portfolio to enable strategic decision making.  She also leads infrastructure- and capacity-building projects to support data collection, linkage, and reporting for PCORI’s evaluation efforts. Rachel has a BS in zoology and women’s studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and a MPH from The Ohio State University, with a concentration in epidemiology. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute.

3:30pm – 4:15pm: HRA News and Updates

Update on HRA’s Reporter and Infographic Update

Lorraine Egan, JD
President and CEO | Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation  

Update on HRA’s Interest Groups and Task Forces 

Sindy Escobar-Alvarez, PhD
Senior Program Officer for Medical Research | Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

  • Open Science Task Force

Maryrose Franko, PhD
Executive Director | Health Research Alliance

  •  Research Workforce and Early Career Development
  • Grants Administration
  • Drug and Other Therapy Development
  • New Frontiers in Science Distinguished Lectureship Program at the FDA

Implementation of the Strategic plan

Maryrose Franko, PhD
Executive Director | Health Research Alliance

  • Slack
  • Communications Advisory Group
  • Members’ Meeting Task Force
  • Annual Survey


4:15pm – 4:30pm: Wrap-Up and Adjourn