Discussion of the changing biomedical workforce – supporting ECIs to foster careers that support funders’ missions [HRA Members Meeting, Irvine, Spring 2023]

Tuesday March 21, 9:15am-10:45am PT

This was a solutions-oriented session to learn about how funders can support either retention in and/or transition to careers outside of academia (depending on the funders’ mission) of early career investigators (ECI) that could serve as models for the broader biomedical funding community. The vision for the session was to explore strategies that funders may want to try out to support their ECI grantees to advance their organization’s mission, whether in academia or elsewhere.

This session featured a speaker from the NIH who will explore longstanding issues impacting careers of ECIs that are not being addressed and might be opportunities for funders to implement solutions. This session also featured several HRA member speakers who provided examples of programs they have implemented to support their early career investigators, ranging from support for those in academia to career transition programs.

Kevin Sia, PhD
Program Officer for Medical Research | Doris Duke Foundation

Stefania Forner, PhD  
Director, Medical & Scientific Relations | Alzheimer’s Association

Tara Schwetz, PhD
Acting Principal Deputy Director | National Institutes of Health
For much of 2021, Dr. Schwetz was on detail to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as the Assistant Director for Biomedical Science Initiatives. In this role, she led the efforts to stand up the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The Biden Administration has proposed ARPA-H to tackle some of the biggest health challenges facing Americans by driving medical innovation more rapidly.

Since 2019, Dr. Schwetz has served as the Associate Deputy Director of NIH and the Alternate Deputy Ethics Counselor for NIH. Throughout her nearly 10-year tenure at NIH, Dr. Schwetz has held multiple positions across several Institutes and within the Office of the Director. She has served as the Acting Director and Acting Deputy Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), the Chief of the Strategic Planning and Evaluation Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Senior Advisor to the Principal Deputy Director of NIH, the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Interim Associate Program Director, and a Health Science Policy Analyst at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Dr. Schwetz started her career at NIH as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at NINR.

Dr. Schwetz has led or co-led a number of high-profile, NIH-wide efforts, including two Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics programs (RADx Underserved Populations and RADx Radical), Implementing a Maternal health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative, and NIH Presidential transition activities. She also has spearheaded several strategic planning efforts, such as the first NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, NIH-Wide COVID-19 Strategic Plan, NIAID Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis Research, NIH Office of the Director Strategic Engagement Agenda, and played a significant role in the development of the National Pain Strategy.

She received a B.S. in biochemistry with honors from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of South Florida, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University.

Lindsay Redman-Rivera, PhD
Grants Officer | Health Resources in Action
Lindsay Redman Rivera joined the Biomedical Research Grantmaking team as a Grants Officer in 2021. Prior to joining HRiA, she received a B.S. in Biochemistry from New Mexico State University followed by a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Vanderbilt University, where she studied mechanisms of tumorigenesis in epithelial cancers. Dr. Redman Rivera has a broad scientific background with over 10 years of research experience spanning the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and cancer biology at both academic, nonprofit and government institutions. Her experience has resulted in the award of multiple fellowships and honors, as well as the publication of high-impact manuscripts and presentations at national and international conferences. Dr. Redman Rivera has also provided service and leadership by contributing to initiatives focused on improving mental health and wellness, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biomedical research community.

Alycia Halladay, PhD
Chief Science Officer | Autism Science Foundation
Alycia Halladay is the Chief Science Officer for the Autism Science Foundation, where she oversees all of the scientific activities, grant programs, funding projects and scientific initiatives of ASF. This includes a weekly podcast and a year end summary of research for families. Prior to joining ASF in 2014, she served as the Senior Director of Clinical and Environmental Sciences at Autism Speaks. She has authored over two dozen peer reviewed papers in science journals. Alycia also serves on Board of Directors for the Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and has published over 2 dozen articles in ASD research. She is on the editorial boards of Neurotoxicology and Frontiers in Pediatrics. She received a PhD in biopsychology from Rutgers in 2001 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ in 2004. She still holds a faculty appointment at Rutgers. She is the parent to a 12 year old daughter with ASD.

Judy Quong, PhD
Director, Scientific Review and Grants Administration  | AACR

Mary O’Reilly, PhD
Vice President, Bioscience Research | Flinn Foundation

Victoria McGovern, PhD
The Gertrude Elion Endowed Program Officer and Strategic Advisor | Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Victoria McGovern runs the Burroughs Wellcome fund’s programs in Infectious Diseases, Climate Change and Human Health, and the workforce development-focused Career Guidance for Trainees program. Since her postdoc she has been involved in science policy efforts related to strengthening the scientific workforce. She is a past chair of Sigma Xi’s Committee on Public Understanding of Science, was one of the original writers for Science’s Next Wave (now Science Careers), and is currently one of the contributors to the Graduate Career Consortium’s Carpe Careers column at Inside Higher Education. She has served on the Committee on Postdoctoral and Graduate Education of the American Society for Microbiology and the Early Career Scientist Steering Committee of the Genetics Society of America, and she currently serves on the National Postdoctoral Association’s advisory board. She joined BWF in 1997.