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2011-13 Archive

2011-2012 Series

From Academics to Economic Development: A Journey Down the Non-Traditional Career Path

PhD Career Connections presents
Dr. Leslie Wisner-Lynch President and CEO, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation Executive Director, BioTN Foundation

From Academics to Economic Development: A Journey Down the Non-Traditional Career Path 
Tuesday, August 9, 2011 4:00-5:00PM 512 Light Hall

Co-sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development, Life Science Tennessee Graduate Alliance, Biochemistry Student Association, and the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association

Dr. Leslie Wisner-Lynch is currently serving as President and CEO of the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, a legislatively created, not-for-profit corporation that works in partnership with the state department of economic and community development to increase the formation, and expansion, of science and technology businesses in Tennessee. She is also a founding member, and part-time executive director of the BioTN Foundation, Inc, a not-for profit foundation committed to advancing life sciences knowledge and business development in the state of Tennessee through the collaborative of industry, K12 education and higher ed. Dr. Wisner-Lynch also serves as the Governor’s designated Chair for the STEM Advisory Council for the STEM Innovation Network, the innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education component of Tennessee’s $500M First To The Top federal education reform funding program. Prior to her current role at TTDC, Dr. Wisner-Lynch was Director of Applied Research at BioMimetic Therapeutics, Inc. in Franklin, TN, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of combination device products for the repair/regeneration of orthopedic injuries A native of Midland, Michigan, Dr. Wisner-Lynch received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas and a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Medical College of Virginia-Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She received surgical specialty and research training in Periodontics at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, as the first Astra Pharmaceutical Research Fellow. In addition to a surgical specialty certificate in periodontics she was concurrently awarded a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Harvard Medical School for research focused on gene expression in a naturally occurring bone disease model. Dr. Wisner-Lynch then served as a consultant to a world-wide pharmaceutical company, with products utilized in bone regeneration procedures in periodontics and craniomaxillofacial surgery while concurrently practicing periodontics in a multi-practitioner setting. Dr. Wisner-Lynch is a member of the American Academy of Periodontology and is a member of the Board of Directors for Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, Tennessee Valley Corridor and Mind2Marketplace as well as serving on the Board of Trustees for the Adventure Science Center and Battle Ground Academy and serving as Board Chair for STEM Preparatory Academy, a recently approved charter school in Metro Nashville Public Schools.


The second seminar of the new PhD Career Connections series will be Tuesday, September 13 from 4:00-5:00pm (location TBD). Please join us for a panel presentation and discussion with Dr. David Hout, Director of Research and Development at Insight Genetics, and Dr. Eric Elmquist, Associate Scientist at Biomimetic Therapeutics.

PhD Career Connections presents

Science Policy

Dr. Chiatogu Onyewu AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, 2010-2012 National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Division for the Application of Research Discoveries (DARD)

Friday, September 30, 2011 2:00PM 512 Light Hall

Dr. Onyewu is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the Division for the Application of Research Discoveries (DARD) at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in Bethesda, MD. She supports current NHBLI efforts to develop and implement evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for adult cardiovascular disease. In addition to documenting the systematic processes and policies that govern this rigorous approach to science translation, Dr. Onyewu is also involved in the development of a new NHLBI initiative focused on reducing cardiovascular risk across the lifespan. She is particularly committed to addressing health disparities, and was recently selected as a 2011 Translational Health Disparities Course Scholar by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Dr. Onyewu previously conducted health disparities research as a United Negro College Fund/Merck (UNCF/Merck) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Research Center for Genetic Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. As Study Director for the Assessing Inherited Markers of Metabolic Syndrome in the Young (AIMM Young) Research Study, Dr. Onyewu worked to identify genetic risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome and related diseases among African American college students. Her research interests center around the design of unique interventions that incorporate personalized medicine approaches and foster cardiovascular disease prevention among minority young adults. She has discussed her work and the future promise of genetic testing as a guest panelist on the PBS television program, To the Contrary, and served as Co-Chair of the Medical and Health Stakeholders group for the D.C. Overweight and Obesity Action Plan. While at Children’s National, she contributed to the formation of its Obesity Institute, and worked to establish an annual symposium series. Dr. Onyewu was a Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Scholar at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she received her B.S. degree in Biology in 1999. She completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Duke University in 2007, with a doctorate degree in Pharmacology.

PhD Career Connections presents

Nonprofit Grants Management

 Dr. Jerome Jourquin Scientific Grants Manager, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 4:00-5:00PM 411A-D Light Hall

Dr. Jerome Jourquin joined Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Komen) in January of 2011 as Scientific Grants Manager of the $298 million Research Programs portfolio. For the last 30 years, Komen has been dedicated in finding the cures to breast cancer through raising awareness, advocating for patients, and funding innovative research. Dr. Jourquin is involved with all facets of Grants Management at Komen: from conducting peer-review of new applications to annually evaluating the progress made by the funded scientists. As a scientist, he is also responsible for communicating about the current science in Komen’s portfolio to the Komen Affiliate network, patient advocates, and donors.

Prior to joining Komen, Dr. Jourquin was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt. He joined Dr. Vito Quaranta’s laboratory after completing his Ph.D. in Neurosciences in 2003 at the University of Aix-Marseilles, France. His thesis work focused on studying extracellular matrix-cell interactions in synaptic plasticity. Applying his Cell Biology expertise to breast cancer research, Dr. Jourquin became part of a multidisciplinary team of experimentalists, mathematicians, engineers, and bioinformaticists studying cancer invasion at the NCI-funded Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Vanderbilt (CCSB@V). With a specific interest in data mining and data sharing, Dr. Jourquin also completed in 2010 a Masters in Bioinformatics at Vanderbilt, working with Dr. Bing Zhang in the Department of Biomedical Informatics to create GLAD4U, a web-service designed to build prioritized gene lists based on user queries. Dr. Jourquin’s research studies have been published in various scientific journals.


PhD Career Connections presents


A Panel Discussion with Dr. Jim Stefansic, Cofounder and COO of Pathfinder Therapeutics and Dr. Mark Harris, Founder and CEO of NextGxDx

Monday, January 16, 2012 4:00-5:00PM 202 Light Hall

Co-Sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development and the TechVenture Challenge

Dr. Jim Stefansic is Co-Founder and COO of Pathfinder Therapeutics, Inc., the developer of an image-guided “GPS” device that enables physicians to accurately and efficiently guide the delivery of cancer therapeutics (usually resection and/or ablation) in soft-tissue organs. Dr. Stefansic is an expert in the field of image guided surgery. Before joining Pathfinder full-time as the Chief Operating Officer early in 2005, Dr. Stefansic worked as a Research Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University, where his R&D efforts were focused on functional neuroimaging and image-guided neurosurgery. He received his doctorate in biomedical engineering in 2000 from Vanderbilt University, where his research focus was image-guided liver surgery, and his MBA in 2005 from the Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business at Belmont University. Since co-founding Pathfinder in mid-2004 , Jim has lead R&D efforts and performed many operational duties, including finance and fundraising, business development, and FDA regulatory approval. He has also served as the principal investigator on $3.4 million in small business innovative research grants awarded to Pathfinder.

PhD Career Connections presents

Clinical Research Management

Dr. Ines Macias-Perez, Senior Program Manager, Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplant Research Program, Sarah Cannon Research Institute

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 4:00-5:00PM 206
Preston Research Building
Sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development

Dr. Ines Macias-Perez is a Senior Program Manager at Sarah Cannon Research Institute. She oversees the development of investigator-initiated clinical trials for the Hematologic Malignancies Research Program. She ensures the ongoing development of investigator-initiated clinical trials by researching and drafting trial concepts. She is responsible for establishing and maintaining collaborative opportunities and relationships with external partners including translational researchers, our funding partners at pharma/biotech companies and investigators practicing in academic institutions. She also manages the pipeline of industry-sponsored and investigator-initiated studies to minimize gaps and competing studies for our network of sites across the U.S. and U.K.

PhD Career Connections presents

Regulatory Affairs

Dr. Bryan Voss Cumberland Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 4:00-5:00PM MRB3 1220

Co-sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development and TechVenture Challenge

Dr. Bryan Voss, a 2007 graduate of the Vanderbilt Pharmacology Training Program, is a Research Scientist at Cumberland Pharmaceuticals in Nashville. Dr. Voss’ team develops new pharmaceutical products, through which he is involved in virtually all phases of the drug development process. Dr. Voss evaluates new product ideas, spearheads the development of animal and human study protocols, identifies qualified investigators to execute the studies and liaises with the FDA to ensure a smooth path to approval. Dr. Voss also manages Cumberland’s Investigator-Initiated Research Program and leads their Scientific/Medical writing efforts for peer-reviewed publications.

PhD Career Connections presents

Business of Healthcare

A Panel Discussion with: 

Mr. Chris Calton, Director of Banking, Avondale Partners
Mr. John Lam, Chief Creative Strategist, Co-Founder of Lam-Andrews
Ms. Kim Ramko, Principal for Americas Life Sciences Sector Lead, Ernst & Young
Ms. Rena Goins, Senior Director Specialty Markets, D2 Pharma Consulting

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 4:00-5:00PM 411 Light Hall

Sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development

Panelists represent the fields of healthcare marketing/PR, healthcare consulting, and healthcare investment banking.

PhD Career Connections presents 

Medical Science Liaison

Dr. Kathy Amiri Oncology Regional Medical Liaison

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 4:00-5:00PM 512 Light Hall
Sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development

Dr. Kathy Amiri is a Senior Medical Liaison with Amgen Oncology. She develops and maintains professional relationships with prominent healthcare providers and key decision makers as they relate to company’s products. She communicates key information about the company and its mission; provides key scientific and clinical information about company’s products; provides a conduit for communication between company’s Research and the medical community regarding ideas for future research with company’s products; and provides corporate value through demonstrated leadership and participation in strategic thinking. Prior to joining Amgen, Dr. Amiri served as the Director of the Translational Research Laboratory at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, where she oversaw preclinical and clinical studies. She was responsible for establishing and maintaining collaborative opportunities with internal as well as external partners including translational researchers, pharma/biotech companies and investigators practicing in academic institutions. Dr. Amiri is a native of Iran, but grew up I Sweden. She moved to US for her Higher Education and graduated from Wittenberg University in 2000, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She later attended Vanderbilt University/Meharry Medical College where she studied in the laboratory of Dr. Ann Richmond and received her Doctorate degree in Cancer Biology in 2005.

2012-2013 Series

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Research Development and Administration
with panelists

Dr. Julie Koh, Director of Foundation Relations, Vanderbilt University
Dr. Erica Bowton, BioVU Program Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research
Dr. Tiffanie Markus, Research Compliance Coordinator, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
206 Preston Research Building

Dr. Julie Koh is the Director of Foundation Relations in the department of Development and Alumni Relations at Vanderbilt University. Her department is responsible for connecting private foundation-sponsored research programs with a principal investigator at Vanderbilt. Julie received her PhD in 2000 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Department of Microbiology. She then worked as a Postdoctoral fellow in the Departments of Cell and Developmental Biology (2001-2005) and Ophthalmology at Vanderbilt (2005-2007). Before taking her current position, she was the Director of Development for Biomedical Research in the Development and Alumni Relations Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from 2007 to 2010.

Dr. Erica Bowton is a Program Manager with VICTR (Vanderbilt Institute of Clinical and Translational Research). She implements and manages large-scale multi-disciplinary programs including BioVU, Vanderbilt’s DNA databank, and Vanderbilt’s PREDICT program which moves genomic information into patient electronic records for decision making in the therapy of multiple drugs. She earned her doctorate in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics in 2009 and has a strong background in neuroscience and genetics. She is responsible for the overall management of programs and projects including distribution of communications, project information, project timelines, milestones, and deliverables as well as ensuring the coordination of essential meetings with various groups such as steering committees, advisory boards, and directors.

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Technology Transfer & Patent Law
with panelists

Dr. Mike Villalobos, Manager of Biotech Licensing, Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Vanderbilt University

Dr. Sean Seymore, Professor of Law and Professor of Chemistry, Vanderbilt University

Monday, October 15, 2012


415 Light Hall

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Drug Development

Dr. Sharon McGonigle, Principal Scientist
Oncology Product Creation Unit, Discovery Biology, Eisai, Inc.

Monday, December 3, 2012


512 Light Hall

Co-sponsored by the Department of Cancer Biology.

Dr. Sharon McGonigle joined Eisai Inc., in November 2007 as a Senior Scientist.  Eisai is a research-oriented, global pharmaceutical company.  Sharon McGonigle, a Principal Scientist since June 2011, is a member of the Oncology Product Creation Unit (PCU) in the Discovery Biology Department.  The PCU takes full responsibility for conducting the series of processes ranging from the discovery of innovative drug candidates through NDA filing and obtaining approval. Sharon’s role is to lead pre-clinical biology efforts on two programs, one of which is in early discovery and one that is currently in early clinical development. Responsibilities include all aspects of moving the program forward, designing suitable experiments, collating and reviewing all data, collaborating with outside academic labs or CROs as necessary, and communicating all progress to project teams and the oncology unit upper management as required.

Dr. McGonigle completed her PhD in the field of parasitology in 1996 at Dublin City University, Ireland.  She completed post-doctoral appointments at the Medical University of South Carolina and Cornell University also in the field of parasitology prior to making a move to industry in 2001.  Applying the biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology expertise earned in academia, she moved to small start-up biotechnology companies in the Boston area.  At Consensus Pharmaceuticals, her focus was on molecular biology specifically in the area of proteases and GPCRs.  Then, during her almost five year tenure at Surface Logix, she gained her first true drug discovery experience and was involved in research on two drugs which eventually made it to the clinic for cardiovascular disease and for cancer.  These experiences enabled her move to the larger pharmaceutical company Eisai, where she now focuses exclusively on drug discovery for cancer.

PhD Career Connections presents

Telling a Chemist’s Story: A Science Writing Primer

 Dr. Carmen Drahl, Senior Editor, Science/Technology/Education,
Chemical & Engineering News

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


512 Light Hall

Co-sponsored by the Biochemistry Student Association

Science journalism- it’s a mainstay on lists of alternative careers. It’s not for everyone. But it’s a part of the fabric of science that researchers can’t afford to ignore. This talk is for the student or postdoc trying to decide on a career direction. But it’s also for faculty who want to know which of their students might thrive in writing. And it’s for any scientist, whether headed to industry, academia, government, or beyond, who wants to know how to work with science writers and how writers decide what to cover.

Carmen Drahl grew up in New Jersey, and majored in chemistry at Drew University. She earned her chemistry Ph.D. at Princeton University, where she worked for Erik Sorensen on the total synthesis of abyssomicin C. In her third year of graduate school she began working toward a career in science journalism. She wrote for the Princeton chemistry department, the Princeton University press office, Association of Women in Science magazine, and at her blog, She Blinded Me with Science. Since 2007, she’s reported for Chemical & Engineering News magazine, where she is now a Senior Editor. At C&EN she’s written about how new medications get their names, how chemistry grad schools stacked up in new rankings, and how an alleged arsenic life form sparked a scientific firestorm. Her work has been featured on SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio”, Radio New Zealand’s “This Way Up”, and elsewhere. Her coverage has been also recognized by MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Tracker.

PhD Career Connections presents

phd Career connections


A presentation by and discussion with

Cynthia Brame, Ph.D. 
Assistant Director, Center for Teaching
Affiliated Faculty, Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University

Caroline Hanson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Columbia State Community College

Darlene Panvini, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Biology
Chair of the Department of Biology, Belmont University

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
4:00-5:00 pm
Location: Light Hall, Room 214

Co-sponsored by the Postdoc Association and the Chemical Biology Association of Students. 

Cynthia Brame, Ph.D.

Cynthia Brame currently serves as the new assistant director at the Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching (CFT).  Cynthia previously was an associate professor of biology at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Cynthia received her B.S. from Centre College and her Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University.  AtCentenary, Cynthia has taught a variety of courses in the biology program, including cell biology, genetics, and the biology of cancer.

Cynthia approaches her teaching with a spirit of experimentation and innovation.  She helped develop and assess a series of inquiry-based labs for her genetics course, and published this work in the journal CBE—Life Sciences Education.  She has collaborated with colleagues from several disciplines, including philosophy, computer science, and dance, to develop interdisciplinary content to integrate into biology courses.  And she’s been an active member of the Centenary College faculty, having served on committees tasked with revising the college’s core curriculum and the department’s biology major. Cynthia has also mentored over a dozen students in undergraduate research experiences.

Caroline Hanson, Ph.D.

Caroline Hanson is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Columbia State Community College. Caroline formerly was a research fellow at Vanderbilt University. 

Darlene Panvini, Ph.D. 

Darlene Panvini is an associate professor of Biology at Belmont University and currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Biology. She specializes in the areas of environmental science, ecology, botany, and conservation. She received a B.S. in Biology from Gardner-Webb University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Vanderbilt University. 

She held the position of Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University for 12 years; and it was during this time that she focused on university-level teaching pedagogies while developing and coordinatingprofessional development programs for graduate students. She joined the Belmont Biology faculty in 2003. Her teaching interests include case studies and service-learning to enhance student engagement. She spearheaded establishing the Environmental Science program, advises the Environmental Club and gets students involved in field biology outside the classroom.


PhD Career Connections presents

Medical Communications 

Panel discussion with:
Dr. Nicole Speed, Strategic Consultant, Ethos Health Communications
Dr. Erin Flynt, Senior Medical Writer, Envision Communication

Monday, February 11, 2013
Location: Light Hall, Room 512

Nicole Speed

Nicole received her PhD in Pharmacology in 2010 at Vanderbilt.  Following completion of her doctorate, she completed a brief post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania before starting her currently position at ETHOS Health Communications as a Strategic Consultant.  Her work involves advising Pharmaceutical Marketing and Medical teams on strategic brand planning and execution of promotional tactics, including advisory boards, speaker programs, development of branded and unbranded content, and thought leader development. She also is involved in financial planning and revenue goals for her company, as well as overall team management.

Erin Flynt
Erin received her PhD in Cancer Biology in 2007 at Vanderbilt. Following completion of her doctorate, she completed a brief post-doc before leaving Vanderbilt to take a position at Precept Medical Communications as a Scientific Associate. At Precept, she used her knowledge base gained during graduate school to contribute to promotional medical education initiatives in a variety of therapeutic categories including Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, resistant hypertension, and Crohn’s disease. From this position, she was ultimately promoted to the role of Medical Director, taking a larger part in strategic brand planning across multiple accounts. Erin is currently a Senior Medical Writer with Envision Communications which specializes in oncology medical education. Her current role aligns her with Envision’s largest client where she focuses on education and strategic brand planning for 2 multiple myeloma products. Her career in promotional medical education has allowed her to work in multiple therapeutic categories with products ranging from early development through post-launch.

PhD Career Connections presents

phd career connections


Dr. Chengyi Lin, Consultant
Bain & Co.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Preston Research Building, Room 206

Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Advanced Degree Consulting Club.

Chengyi Lin is a Consultant in the Chicago office of Bain & Company. He joined Bain in 2011. While at Bain, Chengyi’s work spans multiple practice areas and industries. His experience includes corporate spin-off, global expansion, marketing strategy for emerging markets, customer retention, IT strategy, and performance improvement. He has worked with clients in consumer products, healthcare, and industrial goods and services. Chengyi holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Neurosciences from Northwestern University and a B.Sc. in Biosciences and Biotechnology from Tsinghua University.


PhD Career Connections presents

phd career connections

The Academic Entrepreneur

Panel discussion featuring:

Bob Galloway, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering

Jeff Sonsino, O.D., Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

The panel will include a discussion of how these investigators have balanced roles as academic researchers and as entrepreneurs and provide insight on how students can follow a similar path.

Bring your questions! 

Monday, April 1, 2013
Location: Light Hall, Room 419 A-D

Co-sponsored by the TechVenture Challenge.

PhD Career Connections presents

phd career connections

Big Pharma

Discussion with: 

Dr. Terrence Kenakin
Professor, Department of Pharmacology
University of North Carolina

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Location: Light Hall, Room 214

Terrence Kenakin, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Until August of 2011, Dr. Kenakin was director of research at GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development laboratories at Research Triangle Park, NC, where he optimized drug activity assay systems for the discovery and testing of allosteric molecules mostly for the treatment of diabetes. Before starting the major stint of his drug discovery career at GSK, Dr. Kenakin was an associate scientist at Burroughs-Wellcome in the U.K. which he joined after a post-doctoral fellowship at University College London, U.K. Dr. Kenakin earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada. Dr. Kenakin is a member of many editorial boards as well as Co-editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Receptors and Signal Transduction. In addition, he has authored numerous articles and has written eight books on pharmacology, including the popular “A Pharmacology Primer”.