A Behind the Scenes View on Strategic Planning and Program Development [HRA Members Meeting, New York, Fall 2022]

HRA members are a wealth of information about developing innovative and strategic funding programs to advance biomedical sciences. This session will highlight the behind the scenes of the strategic planning / development process for innovative new programs. Our speaker and panelists will explain how the need for new programs was identified, what led to the program’s inception, how program goals were set, and the lessons learned. The discussion will also include how success of the programs at addressing the original needs will be evaluated. Diverse program types will be covered, including a postdoctoral fellows program with an emphasis on fostering faculty committed to advancing diversity, excellence, and inclusion; an early career program with an emphasis on innovation; an internal biotech incubator; a national conference; and a centers of excellence program.

Kevin Moses, PhD
Senior Program Director | W. M. Keck Foundation

Leslie Vosshall, PhD
Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer | Howard Hughes Medical Institute
As vice president and chief scientific officer, Vosshall directs HHMI’s portfolio of biomedical research programs, comprising HHMI’s Investigator Program, which employs hundreds of leading researchers at institutions across the United States, innovative programs to support early career scientists, and initiatives to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in science.

Vosshall has been an HHMI Investigator since 2008 and is a leader in the field of molecular neurobiology, with particular emphasis on the sense of smell and how it guides complex behavior. Vosshall and her team have done groundbreaking work, establishing the Aedes aegypti mosquito as a genetic model organism for neurobiology, resequencing and editing the species’ genome, investigating how mosquitoes hunt their human hosts, and designing small molecules to block mosquito biting behavior. Vosshall’s research holds promise for combating the spread of yellow fever, dengue, Zika, and other emerging viruses transmitted by female mosquitoes.

Vosshall joined the faculty of The Rockefeller University in 2000, following postdoctoral work at Columbia University in the laboratory of HHMI Investigator and Nobel laureate Richard Axel. She currently serves as Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at Rockefeller. Vosshall directed Rockefeller’s Kavli Neural Systems Institute from 2016 to 2021. She will maintain her research laboratory while serving as HHMI’s vice president and chief scientific officer.

Vosshall earned an AB in biochemistry from Columbia and a PhD in molecular genetics at Rockefeller. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the recipient of many other awards recognizing the impact of her science and leadership. Vosshall is an advocate for open science and a proponent of open access in scientific publishing, including the use of preprints to disseminate new discoveries, and serves on the board of the preprint server bioRxiv.

Elise Hoover, MPH
Senior Director of Research | PKD Foundation
Elise is a public health professional with experience in strategic planning and implementation, research coordination, and outcomes assessment. She is motivated to support, direct and stimulate research efforts, with a passion to invest in innovative data sharing strategies and clinical research tools. While still in graduate school, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA, where she administered polycystic kidney disease (PKD) clinical trial protocols to collect quality research data and monitor study patients for adverse drug events.

Elise then took an epidemiologic fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, where she conducted comprehensive research on gaps in post-diagnostic cancer outcome research using population-level nationally representative datasets. She was also awarded an additional grant to design and conduct a usability and feasibility study for breast cancer symptom management.

Elise now serves as the Senior Director of Research at the PKD Foundation, where she led the implementation and management of the U.S. ADPKD Patient Registry (launched September 2019) to capture longitudinal, patient-reported outcomes. The Registry has also proven to be a valuable research recruitment tool. Additionally, Elise has demonstrated a commitment to including the patient voice in all programs by implementing a Stakeholder Review Committee for the research grant program, and a Patient Advisory Group for management of the Registry itself. She now serves as Co-Chair for HRA’s Registry and Biorepository Working Group.

Sharon Hesterlee, PhD
Chief Research Officer | Muscular Dystrophy Association
Dr. Hesterlee is Executive Vice President, Chief Research Officer of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She has over 20 years of experience in neuromuscular research in both the nonprofit and industry space. She has served as head of research for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation, the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration and the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s MDA Venture Philanthropy. Dr. Hesterlee has also served as project lead for rare disease gene therapy programs at Pfizer, Inc; as Chief Executive Officer of Lion Therapeutics, a special purpose entity of Askbio, Inc.; and as Executive Vice President and Head of the Neuromuscular Division of Askbio Inc.

She has been involved in numerous efforts to remove barriers to therapy development for rare disease and foster interactions between patient advocacy groups and foster interactions between patient advocacy groups and industry. Dr. Hesterlee has served on the governing board of the Health Research Alliance, the NINDS Council, and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee. She currently serves on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Programmatic Review Panel. She received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Arizona in 1999.

Tina Ta, MS
Grants Officer | Health Resources in Action
Tina Ta is part of HRiA’s Biomedical Research Grantmaking team as a Grants Officer. She holds a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. Her research has focused on addictive disorders and developing techniques to target specific brain structures. Tina has experience in project management, event planning, and customer service. She is passionate about racial equity in professional development and celebrating cultural diversity.