Skip to main content

2015 Annual Career Symposium Speaker Information

The Career Symposium Planning Committee is excited to welcome the following speakers for the 2015 Annual Career Symposium, "Science Careers That Put Your Communication Skills to Work!"

Plenary Session Speakers



Dr. Denise Bottiglieri, PhD

Denise received her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Florida, and her postdoctoral training in Clinical Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University.    She was offered a position at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in New York where she was responsible for the design and execution of clinical trials.  It was at Pfizer where Denise first learned about healthcare communications and education; she was intrigued by the intersection of science, medicine and communications. Denise was introduced to Diversified Agency Services, the specialty marketing group of Omnicom, and took a position at Health Science Communications beginning her career in healthcare communications and at Diversified Agency Services where she is currently and has been for 20 years. Denise is the CEO of the Healthcare Consultancy Group, a group of companies with serious expertise in global digital strategy, regulatory consulting, publication planning, educational, promotional communications and strategy, within the pharmaceutical and device space. She believes in protecting the integrity of the science above all else, is passionate about creating best in class teams to help the challenges clients are facing, that every client is different, that every problem has a solution and that well done is better than well said. The companies in HCG serve both large pharma and biotech startups. Paying particular attention to the large differences and the small nuances of each client is critical to maintaining a long term partnership and trust, but understanding that the true client is the drug is what differentiates the HCG group from other healthcare companies.

Denise volunteers for the Azama project building schools in Ecuador for the indigenous people. She is an avid boxing fan (traditional…. not UFC) and at one time wanted to be a physicist but Maxwell’s demon got the best of her. 

katie_8110[2].jpgDr. Katie Moisse, PhD

Katie Moisse is news editor for, where she commissions and edits news and opinion on autism research. She holds a masters in neuroscience from King’s College London, a PhD in pathology from the University of Western Ontario, and a masters in journalism from Columbia University in New York. After graduating from Columbia, Katie joined ABC News as an associate producer in the medical unit. Two years later, she was running the digital health section of ABC News. She joined in 2014 to return to her neuroscience roots and use her journalism training to help advance research.


Roberds photo.jpgDr. Steve Roberds, PhD

Steve leads the scientific and clinical strategy of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (TS Alliance), which is dedicated to finding a cure for tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) while improving the lives of those affected. He serves as the primary contact with industry, academic institutions, and government agencies to engage basic, translational and clinical scientists to help advance research toward new treatments and ultimately a cure for TSC.

During his 16-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, Steve successfully led global, multi-disciplinary research teams to rapidly advance projects along the continuum from idea conception to designing Phase 2 proof-of-concept studies in humans. In Pfizer's Indications Discovery Research Unit, he initiated and led multiple pre-clinical projects to test hypotheses of novel indications for compounds in Pfizer’s development portfolio. Steve is now bringing to bear on TSC his experience in pharma working across many disease areas, including neurodegeneration in the brain and eye, pain, cardiovascular, renal, and asthma. 

Concurrent Session Speakers


HHC.jpgDr. Hillary Hagar Carter, PhD

Dr. Hillary H. Carter is the Senior Advisor for Biosecurity and a Team Chief in the Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) at the U.S. Department of State.  In this role, Dr. Carter provides expert advice on global health security issues, and oversees CTR’s special project and management teams. Prior to this role, Dr. Carter served as the Acting Deputy Team Chief for the Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP) where she oversaw health security programs to reduce global biological risks and strengthen international biosecurity.  Dr. Carter has worked closely with foreign counterparts, the U.S. Government interagency, non-governmental organizations, and International Organizations to implement programs that strengthen global biosecurity.

Dr. Carter came to the State Department as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served as a Program Officer for BEP programs in South and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Prior to starting her tenure at the State Department, she received a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Vanderbilt University, where she studied intracellular transport during early development. Hillary also holds a B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in Spanish from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Carter's interests include international disease detection and control, science diplomacy, global health security, and dual-use technologies.

ACheng.jpgDr. Abby Cheng, PhD

Dr. Abby Cheng received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2001 under the mentorship of Christopher V. Wright, D. Phil.  Her graduate work focused on elucidating the mechanisms of left-right axis formation during vertebrate embryonic development.  She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Shaun R. Coughlin, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco.  There she was awarded the Clifford and Evelyn Cherry Fellowship from the American Heart Association for her research on blood vessel development.  In 2007, she left laboratory research and moved to Boston, MA where she began working for Science Club for Girls (SCFG), a non profit organization whose mission is to foster excitement, confidence and literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for girls, particularly from underrepresented communities, by providing free, experiential programs and by maximizing meaningful interactions with women mentors in STEM.  She is currently serving as the volunteer program manager; recruiting, training and engaging women to build a vibrant community of volunteers that supports current SCFG programs.  Away from SCFG, Abby continues to have an active role in mentoring and community service.  She is an EdgeOnCollege mentor for the University of San Francisco where she received a Masters of Science Degree. For Arkansas State University, where she played volleyball and received a B.S. degree, she mentors student athletes helping them apply the skills they learned on the court to their off court endeavors.  In addition, she serves on the PTC at her daughters’ school. 

nicole1.jpgDr. Nicole Garbarini, PhD

Nicole J. Garbarini, Ph.D. is a media and communications specialist in the NIH Office of the Director/Office of Extramural Research (OER) where she leads strategic planning and communication activities pertinent to the management of the NIH-wide extramural program. She works closely with members of the press on questions about research grants and policies, and communicates funding data, analyses, and policy information to the biomedical research community and other stakeholders of NIH-supported research. She enjoys connecting scientists and administrators to information and tools in support of their research programs, and helping the broader public learn how NIH-supported extramural research contributes to health advances. Dr. Garbarini has been communicating health and science information to scientists and the general public for over six years. Her work experience includes federal government communications and legislative and media affairs at both NIH and NSF, as well as the fields of academic publishing and science journalism. She was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow from 2009-2011, and an AAAS Mass Media Fellow in 2004. Her academic background includes a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a B.S. in biology and minor in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia.

GarciaHeadshot.jpgDr. Efrain Garcia, PhD

Dr. Efrain Garcia is a Senior Science Analyst – Project Officer at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). His duties include overseeing and managing various multi-million dollar Government contracts for the advanced development and procurement of medical countermeasures for chemical threats.  Prior to joining BARDA, Dr. Garcia was the Branch Chief of International Partnerships in the Division of International Health Security (DIHS) within HHS, where he was in charge of supporting the organization’s efforts to promote and engage in strategic bilateral and multilateral collaborations with international partners to advance science-based public health and medical emergency preparedness and response. Dr. Garcia also led the interagency Chemical Requirements Working Group for HHS as a AAAS Fellow, where he developed medical countermeasure requirements to inform the US. Government on desired medical countermeasures for chemical agents. 

Prior to his AAAS fellowship, Dr. Garcia was a Research Fellow at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science. In this role, he studied the effects of prenatal alcohol and cocaine exposure on brain development with state of the art imaging technology. Dr. Garcia received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University, where he investigated the role of serotonin receptors in the mechanism of action of hallucinogenic drugs.

Goss,Kathleen.jpgDr. Kathleen Goss, PhD

Dr. Goss graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Vanderbilt University working in the laboratory of Lynn Matrisian.  After a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Cincinnati with Joanna Groden, Dr. Goss started her independent research program at the University of Cincinnati and then moved her laboratory to the University of Chicago in 2007.  The major focus of her work has been the molecular events responsible for breast and colorectal tumor initiation and progression, with a particular emphasis on the APC tumor suppressor gene and Wnt signal transduction pathway.  Her work has been supported by grants from the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Concern Foundation, American Association for Cancer Research, and National Cancer Institute.  In 2013, she became the Senior Science Writer and Director of Strategic Partnerships at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center as part of the communications team and responsible for integrating cancer outreach, advocacy and education efforts.

GeoffHunt.jpgDr. Geoff Hunt, PhD

Geoff Hunt is the Public Outreach Coordinator for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In this role, Geoff works to enhance the participation of ASBMB members in science outreach activities across the country by developing training programs on science communication and establishing partnerships and opportunities for members to get involved.

Geoff did his undergraduate work at Cornell University, and received his PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University in 2009. He began working at ASBMB in 2010 as the Science Policy Fellow, working in the society’s Public Affairs office, before starting his current role at the beginning of 2012.

Jiang photo.jpgDr. George Jiang, PhD

George Jiang is a scientist by training with several years of experience in data integration, text analytics, and software development. 

George attended University of Maryland, College Park, for his Bachelor of Science degree, where he began his career in biomedical research, including being awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellowship to work on a carotenoid biosynthesis enzyme cloning project.  For his graduate school degrees, George attended Wake Forest University and was involved in research projects on biogenic amine biosynthesis, and neurodegenerative diseases during the day, while working on his MBA in the evening.  George joined the Vanderbilt University community during his graduate work, following his advisor to Nashville TN to complete his dissertation research focused on the evaluation of the toxicity of depleted uranium.

In 2007 after graduate school, George joined ChemRisk, a small high-end scientific consulting firm based in San Francisco, CA, to provide litigation support for scientific expert testimony revolving around human health risk assessment and potential/alleged chemical exposures.

George moved to Bethesda, MD in 2008 to work at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) as part of the Discovery Initiative.  This initiative involved better understanding the various users’ needs, crosslinking data, and exposing content to make research information at NCBI more discoverable and useful.  Many of you may be familiar with his work if you access information at NCBI on PubMed, PubMed Central, or the sequence data repositories.

George joined Elsevier in 2013 and is currently a Product Manager with working on text mining projects and semantic search products, based out of Rockville, MD.

JMilder_0.jpgDr. Julie Milder, PhD

Dr. Milder is Associate Research Director at CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy), the largest private funder of epilepsy research.  She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2010 from the University of Colorado Denver, after completing her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Her graduate work focused on the proposed mechanisms underlying success of the ketogenic diet for pediatric epilepsies, with an emphasis on how this drastic change in diet affects mitochondrial physiology and antioxidant response.

Through her graduate studies Dr. Milder found a passion for epilepsy research and the entire community of researchers, patients, and families. She joined CURE in 2011 and is thrilled to be in a position in which she can remain active with the scientific community and apply her scientific background to work strategically to defeat this devastating disorder.

As Associate Research Director, Dr. Milder oversees a number of CURE’s research programs, and most notably, has been instrumental in developing and implementing CURE’s first directed team-science initiative aimed at advancing a disease-modifying therapy or cure into the clinic for infantile spasms.

MRaoPhoto.jpgDr. Meghana Rao, PhD

In 2012, Meghana received her PhD in Cancer Biology from Vanderbilt University. She transitioned her problem solving, project management, and communication skills from the laboratory bench to the consulting industry. Currently, Meghana is a Consultant in the Medical Affairs Practice Area at Campbell Alliance with a focus on Risk and Program management. 

LS_pp.jpgDr. Laura Sanders, PhD

Neuroscience writer and Growth Curve Blog writer Laura Sanders reports on the latest mysteries of the mind and blogs about the science of raising kids. She earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she studied the nerve cells that compel a fruit fly to perform a dazzling mating ritual full of singing and dancing. Convinced that she was missing some exciting science development somewhere, Laura turned her eye toward writing about brains in all shapes and forms. Laura's research has been published in scientific journals including Current Biology, Developmental Biology and PLOS Biology. She holds undergraduate degrees in creative writing and biology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where she was a National Merit Scholar. Her 2012 series on consciousness won an Eddie Award for editorial excellence, and her 2013 article “No New Meds” was selected as best single article by Folio: Magazine.

AS.pngDr. Anuraag Sarangi, PhD

Dr. Anuraag Sarangi is an experienced Strategic Consultant at ETHOS Health Communications based in the Greater Philadelphia area.  He leads a 20-member cross-functional team advising pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients in effective and compliant scientific marketing of their brands throughout the brand lifecycle. In addition to strategic services, his team provides medical education and training, program planning, and communications services to brand marketing, payer marketing, and medical affairs clients. Dr. Sarangi also leads efforts in identifying and securing business opportunities, managing company resources, and overseeing delivery of services to provide the highest value to clients.

Prior to joining ETHOS in 2011, Dr. Sarangi conducted his postdoctoral research at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill studying nanoparticle-based cancer imaging. He won a North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Institute pilot grant to support his work at UNC.  Dr. Sarangi joined UNC after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2009 with a PhD in Neuroscience. At Vanderbilt, he worked with Dr. Michael Cooper in the Department of Neurology on molecular signaling mechanisms regulating brain tumor development and growth.

Stith Headshot Oct 2014 copy.jpgDr. Andrea Stith, PhD

Andrea is the assistant director for interdisciplinary education at the University of Colorado BioFrontiers Institute. Her professional interests include graduate and postdoctoral education, broadening participation in STEM, and the internationalization of higher education. Prior to joining BioFrontiers, she served as a research fellow at the Graduate School of Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. While in Shanghai, her research focused on national and institutional policies that impact the career prospects of postdoctoral researchers. Previously, she studied science/technology and higher education policies as a German Chancellor Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.  Dr. Stith has held program management positions at non-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). In 2002-2003 she was an AAAS/NSF Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Stith received her doctorate in Biophysics from the University of Virginia and she received her bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Delaware. She currently serves as Co-chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on Race and Ethnicity at CU-Boulder and as a member of the Alumni Council for American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Wyma_Don_003[1].jpgDr. Don Wyma, PhD

After graduating from Benedictine University in 1997 with a degree in Biochemistry and minor in Biology, Don Wyma received his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from Vanderbilt University where he worked on HIV. Don then went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship in the Special Pathogens Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, where he worked on Rift Valley Fever and Ebola viruses. 

After his post-doc, Don joined the Intelligence Community as a technology analyst at the National Center for Medical Intelligence and spent almost a decade in various leadership positions within the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Community. Several of his experiences included serving as the Deputy Director of Scientific and Technical Intelligence for the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and as a Senior Biological Specialist at the National Counterproliferation Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Don also had the opportunity to spend six months in Afghanistan leading a group of nine linguists in support of counter-insurgency and reconstruction efforts. 

In 2010 Don moved to the private sector and started his own consulting firm, Intelligent Insights, which focuses on technology evolution and risk/opportunity assessments. At the same time, Don joined Proactive Worldwide, a consulting and decision support firm, where he led the global research and analysis efforts for the Life Science and Healthcare Practice. In 2012 Don was recruited into the pharma industry to serve as the Assistant Director of Planning and Portfolio Support at Abbott/AbbVie​. More recently, Don was was tapped to s​erve as the Program Manager for a $1.5B partnership between AbbVie and Calico, the Google-backed life sciences company that is focused on developing new therapeutics for diseases of aging.