Open Mic: Developing strategic approaches to communicating the value of your research [HRA Members Meeting, Irvine, Spring 2023]

Tuesday March 21, 1:45pm-3:00pm PT

In this Open Mic session, HRA members shared their strategies for communicating the impact of their funding to a wide variety of stakeholders. We heard what platforms (podcasts, newsletters, social media, print media, etc) were most effective for the various target audiences (boards, donors, patients, researchers, public, etc). 

Megan Allen, PhD
Scientific Director | Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
Megan joined the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in 2022. Megan is part of a team that overseas six award programs that fund early career researchers. The overarching goal of these programs is to identify emerging talent and support risky projects that may revolutionize the way we prevent, diagnose, and treat various cancers. In her short tenure at Damon Runyon, Megan has also worked with senior leadership to develop outreach initiatives including a quarterly webinar series and a post-baccalaureate research bridge program. Megan received her PhD in Cell and Molecular Neuroscience from Georgetown University and completed postdoctoral research training at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Joe Cotter
Research Engagement Manager | American Cancer Society
Joe Cotter is a research engagement manager on the extramural discovery science team at the American Cancer Society.

Orna Ehrlich, MPH
Vice President, Strategic Impact | Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Orna Ehrlich joined the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation in 2010. Her work focuses on the demonstration and communication of the Foundation’s impact on its mission and the IBD community. This includes working across departments to generate, monitor, and promote measurement of success across the Foundation’s strategic plan focus areas as well as communication of our measurements across Foundation programming. She also oversees the Foundation’s portfolio of peer-reviewed journals (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases® and Crohn’s & Colitis 360) as well as leading the analysis and dissemination of several Foundation research studies, including the Cost of IBD Initiative and Defining Remission study. Over her tenure at the Foundation, she has also developed and managed numerous patient and professional education programs as well as overseeing several needs assessments to assess gaps in knowledge and utilization of resources for patients and providers.

Orna received her Master of Public Health degree with a focus on Health Promotion from Columbia University prior to joining the Foundation and completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Michigan.

Priya Malhotra, PhD
Associate Director, Research Program | Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Priya Malhotra, PhD is a scientific program manager with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s Research Team. In addition to grants management, Priya facilitates the communication of BCRF-funded scientific research to other BCRF teams and the lay public. She earned her doctorate in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Wake Forest University. And completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Georgetown University before taking a position as a Research Assistant Professor at that institution. After leaving academia, she began writing grants, preparing communications, and presentations for a non-profit organization that focuses on sustainability education for kids. She has been with BCRF for over 3 years.

Alexandra Mulvey
Senior Manager, Research Communications | JDRF

MJ Contino
Associate Director, Media Engagement | Alzheimer’s Association
Mary Jo (MJ) Contino, MA, is associate director of media engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association. In this role, she conducts proactive and reactive media relations, and develops and executes external communication strategies, for the Association’s various global science and research endeavors. MJ leads communications efforts for the Association’s $320+ international research grant funding program, and helps set media relations strategy for the largest international conference on dementia science: the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, among other scientific conferences.

MJ has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and French language from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and a Master’s degree in strategic communications from University of Iowa.

Lauren Harte-Hargrove, PhD
Director, Research | Cure Epilepsy
Lauren Harte-Hargrove, PhD, is CURE Epilepsy’s Director of Research. Dr. Harte-Hargrove obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis, and her doctorate degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. She began her career as a research scientist at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in New York, and was most recently the Project Manager of the ILAE/AES Joint Translational Task Force.

Nicole Litwin, PhD, RD
Manager, Scientific Impacts | Crohn’s & Colitis
Nicole S. Litwin, PhD, RD is manager of Scientific Impact at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, where she is responsible for translating the Foundation’s funded research into usable information for internal uses as well as externally to the lay public, patients/caregivers and/or health care professionals. Nicole is also responsible for identifying, assessing, and communicating the outcomes and impact of the Foundation’s research programs.

Prior to this position, Nicole was a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) with the University of California San Diego, where she studied the complex relationship between diet and the human gut microbiome. In addition to her research, Nicole helped support the American Gut Project (AGP) and its expansion into other countries, as well as translation of completed research studies across CMI and AGP’s communication channels.

Nicole holds a PhD in Nutrition & Food Science from Colorado State University, a Master’s and Bachelor’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition from East Tennessee State University and is a Registered Dietitian.