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2013-15 Archive

2013-14 Series

PhD Career Connections presents

Patent Law

Discussion with: Dr. Seth Ogden, PhD, JD Attorney at Law Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, and Dunner, LLP Washington, DC

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 8:30-9:30am Location: PRB, Room 206

Seth Ogden focuses his practice on patent litigation, patent prosecution, and client counseling primarily in the areas of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Dr. Ogden’s litigation experience includes matters before U.S. district courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He has managed fact discovery, worked with fact witnesses, and drafted complaints and motions. Dr. Ogden also actively prosecutes patent applications in the biotechnology area, including technologies such as antibodies and drug delivery systems. In addition, he has experience in client counseling, including preparing opinions of counsel. While in law school, Dr. Ogden worked at Finnegan as a summer associate and as a law clerk. His doctoral studies included work on host-pathogen interactions that mediate cell-signaling events leading to the development of inflammation and cancer.

PhD Career Connections presents

Science Outreach

Panel Discussion

Speakers include:

ReGina Etter, Melissa Fischer, and Kimberly Mulligan

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Location: PRB, Room 206

Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach.

Melissa A. Fischer, Ph.D.
Dr. Fischer received her B.S. in Genetic Bioengineering from Purdue University and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is currently the Scientist in the Classroom for the Interdisciplinary Science and Research (ISR) Program at Hillsboro High School as well as an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Biology at Belmont University. Through these two positions, it is her goal to utilize her passions for science and teaching to spark a desire to be a life-long science learner in each of her students, regardless of their chosen profession.


ReGina Etter, Ph.D.
Dr. ReGina A. Etter (Instructional Designer/MRT) brings to Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary School over 25 years of experience in the area of professional development and classroom instruction.  Through the MSAP grant, our MRT (Materials Resource Teacher) provides: curriculum designing, professional development and science enrichment opportunities. ReGina has worked with Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Trevecca University, Middle Tennessee State University, Belmont University and Aquinas University in the area of INQUIRY BASED science instruction. She is a graduate of the Science Exploratorium in San Francisco, Ca. and The Sally Ride Science Academy. Her belief in the “power and promise” of education is quite evident in the innovative and exciting lessons she designs and presents for the teachers and students.

Kimberly Mulligan, Ph.D.
Kimberly Mulligan attended Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University where she received her B.S and M.S in Chemistry. After leaving Florida A&M, Kimberly pursued her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. Her dissertation research examined the mechanism by which insulin-stimulated skeletal muscle glucose uptake is impaired in the presence of inflammation. In addition to her graduate work, Kimberly was a founding member of the Alliance for Cultural Diversity in Research (ACDR) and served as the Community Outreach Chair for several years. During this time she was able to initiate member participation in key outreach activities including Family Science Night and Volunteer Scientist in the Classroom at several middle schools. Upon completion of her graduate work, Kimberly decided to go the nontraditional route and became a Research Fellow with the Center for Science Outreach (CSO) at Vanderbilt University. In this position she has been able to merge her love of science and desire to enhance STEM education at the K-12 level. In her current position, she focuses on the development of novel, research-based scientific curriculum for implementation at the secondary education level at Stratford STEM Magnet and Hillsboro High Schools. Additionally, she works in conjunction with other scientist to provide professional development opportunities for teachers to foster scientific learning across curriculum. She also serves as the Program Coordinator for the Research Experience for High School Students (REHSS) which is a 6-week scientific research internship for rising high school seniors. A number of national publications as well as scientific professional societies have called for increased involvement of university scientists in the education of our K-12 youth. Kimberly is hopeful that her role in developing CSO programs will provide a model for how scientists can and should be involved.

PhD Career Connections presents

Science Policy

Discussion with:
Dr. Kenneth Gibbs

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
12:15-1:15 PM
Location: Light Hall, Room 208

Kenneth Gibbs is currently serving as a Cancer Prevention Fellow with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). From 2011-2013, he served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where he conducted empirical research on STEM workforce development, specifically the factors that influence graduate school into and through postdoctoral training as well as undergraduate into graudate education in engineering. He also drafted sections of the federal government’s STEM education Coordinated Strategic Plan for Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

He received his BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland, and his PhD in the Multidisciplinary Program in Immunology at Stanford University. He also completed his postdoctoral training at Stanford under the advising of Garry Nolan. He is currently pursuing an MPH through the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

PhD Career Connections presents


Panel Discussion

with Alan Marnett, PhD, of Benchfly
and Jud Schneider, PhD, of NextGxDx

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Location: PRB, Room 206

Alan Marnett, Benchfly

As the son and grandson of chemists, I was certainly aware of a possible genetic predisposition research so it wasn’t terribly surprising that I found my place in an organic chemistry lab at Trinity University. Over the next fifteen years, my research career and interests evolved. I earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from UCSF and performed my postdoctoral research in Neuroscience in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. It was during my years in the lab I realized that despite the incredible advances in technology and scientific knowledge in the past 50 years, the training and support process for research scientists was still stuck in the dark ages–and BenchFly was born.

Jud Schneider, NextGxDx

With a passion for bridging the scientific and medical worlds, Jud is dedicated to translating basic science discovery into actionable medical technology. With over 12 years of experience in clinical and biomedical research, Jud brings deep experience in genetics, genomics, next-generation sequencing, and high-throughput data analysis to the team. Having spent both time in the clinic and at the bench, he is focused on providing relevant and accurate testing information to physicians at the appropriate point in their workflow.

Outside of science, Jud has experience in economic development, government relations, technology commercialization, and education. Jud has founded programs at Vanderbilt University designed to facilitate the commercialization of laboratory-developed technology by building bridges between scientists, businesses, investors, and state government. He is intimately involved with Life Science Tennessee, the state’s biotechnology association, currently serving on the Education and Workforce Development Committee and the Board of Directors.

Jud performed both his PhD, in Cell and Developmental Biology, and fellowship, in Molecular Endocrinology and Biophysics, at Vanderbilt University.

PhD Career Connections presents:

Technical Sales and Support

The discussion will feature Dr. Sara Fitzgerald, Dr. Christine Rozanas, and Dr. Eric Roush of GE Healthcare.

January 14, 2014
Preston Research Building Room 206. 

Co-sponsored by the Chemical Biology Association of Students (CBAS)

Dr. Sara Fitzgerald is a Field Sales Manager at GE Healthcare. In this dual role, Dr. Fitzgerald has her own territory, in which she is a technical sales representative for the protein separations products.  In addition, she manages a team of four other sales specialists throughout the southeast.  Sara is a graduate of Vanderbilt University’s IGP program, and she obtained her PhD in Molecular Biology in 1998.

Dr. Christine Rozanas is Marketing Leader for protein separations products at GE Healthcare Life Sciences. She has held various roles within GE Healthcare that have led to this role.  She has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota and did her post-doctoral work at UCSF.  Chris is very closely involved in the sales process at all stages.

Dr. Eric Roush is Principal Application Scientist for Biacore and MicroCal Products at GE Healthcare Life Sciences. In this role, Eric works with the sales specialists by consulting with customers both during the pre-sales stage and after the sale has been completed.  He is responsible for assisting the sales specialist to ensure that the technology is a good fit for the customer’s need.  He performs product demonstrations using technology and customer samples. Also, Eric provides all training and support for customers after they have purchased.   Eric holds a PhD from Duke University.

PhD Career Connections presents

Taking Charge of Your Career: Reflections of a Mentor-Scientist

A discussion with
Dr. Kathy Gould
Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences

Thursday, February 13, 2014
Location: Preston Research Building Room 206

Kathy Gould, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences, the Director of the Vanderbilt International Scholar Program, the Director of Graduate Student Support at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a Louise B. McGavock Chair, and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. Dr. Gould oversees the activities of the BRET Office of Career Development, working with the directors of graduate studies for each Ph.D. program affiliated with the School of Medicine to support graduate student training. She also leads the VUMC Research Staff Award Committee and the Institutional Biomedical/Biological Sciences Internal Review Committee for limited submission opportunities.

Dr. Gould received her A.B. degree from University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and was a Fellow of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund with Sir Paul Nurse at Oxford University. She became an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shortly after establishing her own laboratory at Vanderbilt University, where her laboratory focuses on obtaining a mechanistic understanding of how cell division is achieved and regulated.

PhD Career Connections and the Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training present:

“The Road to a Career in Writing with your PhD”

featuring Elise Lamar, PhD, Stephen Ornes, and Bill Snyder

Wednesday, March 12
PRB 206

Co-sponsored with the Editors’ Club

 Hear how a career in writing can be a viable path!

Elise Lamar, PhD is a science and grant writer. After working as a technician in labs in San Diego, she went to grad school in midlife and earned a PhD in biomedical sciences at UCSD. As student and then as a postdoc at Salk Institute, she supplemented her income doing manuscript editing and writing, and in the end decided to make a living from it.

In 2007 Elise took a job as science reporter at City of Hope (COH), a comprehensive cancer center in LA. There she also worked with COH’s Foundations group to help researchers prepare grants aimed at private funders. Now living in Nashville, she still works on contract with COH and is a full-time freelance science and medical writer. Elise has diverse clients in science writing (for the Stowers Institute in Kansas City and Salk Institute) and grant and manuscript writing, for COH, the Sanford-Burnham Institute in La Jolla, and investigators abroad. She is a member of NASW and AMWA.

Bill Snyder is senior science writer in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of News & Communications. He writes stories about biomedical research for university publications including the VUMC’s weekly newspaper, The Reporter (, and the university’s Research News website (

Snyder earned a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University in 1977. He also studied biochemistry at Oxford University as a Rotary Foundation International Fellow. He covered health care and biomedical science for newspapers, including The Tennessean, for more than 20 years before joining the Vanderbilt staff in 2002.

Snyder has received several awards for his reporting, and for a biomedical research magazine,Lens, which he edited and produced for VUMC between 2003 and 2009. That magazine can be found on-line at He also has traveled to Haiti and Mozambique to cover Vanderbilt’s international AIDS programs.

More recently, Snyder has mentored several Vanderbilt graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and others in science writing. One is now an intern in science communications in the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Genomics, and another just landed a newly created science communications/science policy position with a professional society for vision researchers.

PhD Career Connections and the Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training present:

Technical Consulting

a presentation by Jason Clevenger

Thursday, April 10
PRB 206

Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Advanced Degree Consulting Club.

Dr. Jason Clevenger is a Principal Scientist in Polymer Science and Materials Chemistry with Exponent, an engineering and scientific consulting company. Dr. Clevenger’s expertise focuses on materials characterization and process engineering for specialty manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on regulated products such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Clevenger’s physical chemistry experience is applicable to problems involving materials such as semiconductors, MEMS, metal films, dielectrics, polymers, materials processing, materials characterization, pharmaceutical process chemistry, identification of trace contaminants including organics and particulates, and corrosion processes.

His pharmaceutical experience includes process engineering and optimization for transdermal and solid oral formulations, regulatory compliance and CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls) related issues involving root cause analysis, corrective and preventive action plans, quality assurance, and Quality by Design initiatives. His medical device experience includes method development for regulatory submissions, product development and manufacturing support, and technology due diligence assessment.

His characterization background encompasses a broad range of advanced technologies and techniques including laser spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Auger spectroscopy, Raman, FTIR, solid/liquid-NMR, optical emission/absorption spectroscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), white-light interferometry, spectroscopic ellipsometry, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). In addition, he has extensive experience with plasma chemistry and spectroscopy, thin film metrology and reliability, high vacuum technology, and semiconductor processing.

Dr. Clevenger received his B.A. in Chemistry (magna cum laude with High Honors) from Vanderbilt University in 1995. He received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002.

PhD Career Connections and The BRET Office of Career Development presents:

Science Publishing

featuring Mirella Bucci, Senior Editor, Nature Chemical Biology

Thursday, May 1
Light Hall, Room 512

Mirella Bucci graduated with a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from Washington University where she worked with Susan Wente on nuclear pore complex assembly. She moved onto a postdoctoral position at Stanford, working with Ron Kopito on protein aggregation in the context of neurodegenerative disease. Finding that she loved to read the literature even well outside of the areas in which she was working, she pursued positions in on science communication. Her first non-academic position was as the cell biology editor for Nature in London. After moving back to the US, she briefly worked as a copywriter at a healthcare communications agency and as a freelance science writer. She is currently a senior editor at Nature Chemical Biology in the San Francisco Nature office. She and three other editors read and evaluate >100 manuscripts a month and mange peer review of those that make the first editorial cut. They all ultimately put together the entire journal every month, which includes writing editorials, commissioning Review articles and writing brief stories about papers appearing in the journal as well as the wider literature.

Nature Chemical Biology is an international monthly journal that provides a high-visibility forum for the publication of top-tier original research and commentary in chemical biology, a field that combines the scientific ideas and approaches of chemistry, biology and allied disciplines to understand and manipulate biological systems with molecular precision. We seek to publish manuscripts that report major conceptual or methodological advances at the chemistry-biology interface that are likely to open up innovative avenues of research in the field. In addition to publishing original research, Nature Chemical Biology provides a forum for the exchange of ideas between scientists in the chemical and life sciences and a community resource for this emerging field. To this end, we publish content including review articles, highlights of relevant research published in other journals and commentaries that present topics of scientific and community interest. I will describe the scope and content of the journal, the submission and editorial selection process, and the role (and hopefully, value) of professional editors. I will also describe the ways that we and journals in general are changing with new trends in publishing (think open access, reproducibility, and social networking).

2014-15 Series

PhD Career Connections presents:

PhD Career Connections: Management Consulting

featuring Laura Terry, PhD, consultant, McKinsey & Co.

Friday, September 12
Light Hall 214

Laura Terry is an Associate with McKinsey & Co., where her recent work has focused on ensuring quality standards and regulatory compliance for medical devices. Prior to joining McKinsey & Co., Laura was a post-doctoral fellow in Molecular Biology at Princeton University with support from the American Cancer Society. In addition to conducting laboratory research in molecular virology, she taught courses on influenza, cell biology, and development at Princeton. She received a Ph.D. in Cell & Developmental Biology from Vanderbilt University. As a graduate student, Laura studied nulceocytoplasmic trafficking with Dr. Susan Wente. Her undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral research has been presented to a range of professional audiences, including the American Society for Microbiology, the American Society for Cell Biology, and the International Herpesvirus Workshop. Laura lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and enjoys distance running, cycling, and traveling.

PhD Career Connections: College Teaching

Join us as we talk to two professors in different academic settings.

Mark Forsyth, PhD, Associate Professor, The College of William and Mary
Yanice Méndez-Fernandez, Assistant Professor, Trevecca Nazarene University

Tuesday, October 14
PRB 206

Mark Forsyth, PhD
Mark Forsyth, PhD, is an associate professor of Biology at The College of William & Mary and has been there since 2000.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at VUMC in the Infectious Disease Division from 1995 to 2000 and was a post doc at University of Connecticut from 1991-1995.  His graduate work was with the Pathobiology Department at University of Connecticut and his undergraduate was at the University of Maine, his home!  Forsyth’s current research involves bacterial pathogenesis, specifically, the human gastric pathogen, Helicobacter pylori.

Yanice Méndez-Fernandez, PhD
Dr. Méndez was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she earned a Bachelor degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras.  She obtained a PhD in Biomedical Sciences with a specialization in Immunology from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN.  She spent 5 years as a post-doctoral fellow in the Deparment of Microbiology and Immunology and 3 years as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Vanderbilt University.  She currently teaches at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville and holds an adjunct position in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Vanderbilt.

PhD Career Connections: Nonacademic Postdocs

PhD Career Connections welcomes back two alumni who completed non-academic postdocs. Learn about their path, experience, and transition into full-time work.

Kelly Basi, PhD and Nuruddeen Lewis, PhD

Friday, November 7
Light Hall 214

Kelly Basi, PhD
Dr. Kelly Basi attended Miami University of Ohio, earning a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry in 2005. Upon graduation, she entered the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where she joined the laboratory of Dr. Borden Lacy.  Dr. Basi studied the Helicobacter pylori vacuolating toxin and successfully determined the x-ray crystal structure of the receptor binding domain. Upon successfully defending her thesis in August 2010, she was awarded a Ph.D in Microbiology and Immunology.  Dr. Basi accepted a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Rockwood at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRCID) at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), MD. During her postdoctoral appointment, Dr. Basi was involved with improving countermeasures to treat cyanide poisoning.  She successfully received funding from the NIH CounterACT program to understand the gene expression of cyanide alone and in combination with antidotes.  She co-authored a book chapter titled “Chronic Cyanide Exposure” which will be published later this year.  In October 2012, Dr. Basi accepted a microbiologist position in the Federal government with the 20th Support Command on APG.  During her appointment, she was involved with developing methods to rapidly detect bacterial toxins in different environmental samples.  In May 2013, she accepted her current position as a research molecular biologist at USAMRICD, where she is currently involved in developing an Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion Center.  Her current duties involve developing methods to understand the metabolism of novel candidate countermeasures for chemical warfare agents.  She has been awarded the Silver Award by the Federal Executive Board for excellence in federal service, and other awards for her contributions to the mission of USAMRICD.

Nuruddeen Lewis, PhD
Nuruddeen Lewis is a scientist in the Cellular and Translational Immunology group at EMD Serono in Billerica, Massachusetts. He received his B.S. degree from Alabama State University and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. After graduation, he performed his postdoctoral studies in the pharmaceutical industry at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield, Connecticut. There, his work focused on autoimmune diseases and the identification and validation of potential drug targets. He now continues his work in drug discovery for autoimmune diseases at EMD Serono by using translational cell-based assays and bioinformatic analyses. Nuruddeen currently lives with his wife and three children in Andover, Massachusetts. You can reach him on LinkedIn.

The BRET Office of Career Development presents

PhD Career Connections: Medical Science Liaison

Molly Seale, Director, Regional Medical Liaisons, Amgen Oncology

Tuesday, December 16
Light Hall 214

Molly Thoreson Seale is a Director of Regional Medical Liaisons at Amgen. She leads a team of medical liaisons who engage health care professionals on Amgen’s science, clinical trials, and product value. While at Amgen, Molly has been a part of the launch of seven new oncology molecules. She also leads special projects for Amgen Research & Development related to development of oncology therapeutics, congress participation, and product and skills training. Molly previously served as a medical liaison for eight years and has been managing teams for the past five years. She earned her doctorate from Vanderbilt in Cancer Biology where she worked on cell adhesion and signaling pathways. She still lives in Nashville where she and her husband raise 4 young children, support local agriculture, and travel often to support their hobbies of snow skiing and scuba diving.

PhD Career Connections: Health Outcomes Research

Join us as Elizabeth Rula, PhD, discusses her role as a Health Outcomes Researcher at January’s PhD Career Connections seminar.

Friday, January 16, 2015
Light Hall 208

Elizabeth Rula, Ph.D., is an Executive Director and Principal Investigator at the Healthways Center for Health Research. In this role, she leads a team of interdisciplinary researchers in studies that evaluate the effectiveness of Healthways programs aimed at improving population well-being to reduce health care costs and improve productivity.  Additionally, Dr. Rula leads collaborative research with outside academic experts and key strategic partners to advance Healthways’ capability to improve well-being and to understand the impact of this improvement.

During her tenure at Healthways, Dr. Rula has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, white papers and reports that demonstrate the impact of Healthways existing programs, test innovative new strategies, and evaluate the importance of individual and community well-being on health care costs and productivity.  Her work has been featured in the media including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News and she presents regularly at national forums to advance corporate and policy initiatives around health and well-being improvement.

Prior to her work at Healthways, Dr. Rula earned her doctorate from Vanderbilt University in the field of Pharmacology and researched novel molecular modifications and their impact on neural signaling.


PhD Career Connections presents:

STEM Teaching in K-12

featuring Jennifer Ufnar, PhD

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Light Hall 214

Jennifer A. Ufnar, PhD, is the current director of the SCP Program at Vanderbilt University within the Department of Teaching and Learning. She holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi, and has recently joined the Department of Teaching and Learning from a faculty position in Biology at Southern Vermont College.

Dr. Ufnar has over a decade of experience in teaching at the K-16 level and implementing and directing programs in the science education arena. Her research interests center both on the scientific realm studying microbial ecology of archaea within animal systems, and the science education arena focusing on the efficacy of long-term professional development interventions for K-12 teachers.

PhD Career Connections presents:

Data Science

Featuring Tom Lasko, PhD, and Elizabeth Ann Stringer, PhD

Tuesday, March 10
Light Hall 214

Thomas A. Lasko, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics
Tom has a PhD in Computer Science from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and an MD from UC San Diego. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Computer Science at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, and a clinical internship at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, WI (where he learned about all of the ways in which those bucolic farms will try to kill you if you set foot on them). He spent a few years as a Software Engineer at Google, where he developed the completely data-driven algorithm that powers the diagnosis engine called Google Symptom Search, and investigated methods to spot interesting medical patterns in the mind-bogglingly-massive Google query stream. His current research interest is in the computational aspects of precision, personalized medicine, including the data-driven discovery of unknown or emerging medical phenotypes from EMR data.

Elizabeth Ann Stringer, National Director of Science, Axial Healthcare
Elizabeth Ann Stringer, a Nashville native, graduated from Sewanee in 2003 with a B.S. in Physics and from Vanderbilt in 2010 with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Her doctoral research focused on mapping somatosensory and pain processing in the healthy human brain with ultra high field fMRI at 7T. During her postdoctoral training at Stanford, she worked on several projects including measuring the neural effects of opioid exposure using MRI in the treatment of various pain syndromes and identifying biomarkers for chronic inflammatory conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Gulf War illness.

In 2013, Elizabeth Ann moved back to Nashville and started working for an early-stage startup, Axial Healthcare. Axial is a pain care solutions company, informed by advanced analytics and clinical evidence, and enabled by technology. Elizabeth Ann mines healthcare claims data to identify pain patients at risk for poor medical outcomes and to evaluate the performance of practitioners practicing in the pain space.

PhD Career Connections presents:

Working at the FDA

featuring Omari Bandele, PhD

Wednesday, May 5
Light Hall 214

Omari earned his Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry from Tennessee State University. While attending Tennessee State, he was the recipient of several honors and awards including the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholarship and the Thurgood Marshall/Pfizer Research Initiative Scholarship. As a Thurgood Marshall Scholar, Omari completed two summer internships at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals where he worked in the Analytical Research and Development Department to develop and validate two-dimensional HPLC (2D-HPLC) methods to identify and separate impurities from potential therapeutic compounds.

Following his undergraduate studies, Omari attended Vanderbilt University where he earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry under the tutelage of Dr. Neil Osheroff. His doctoral research involved multiple projects to elucidate the mechanisms by which dietary bioflavonoids enhance the DNA-cleavage activity of human type II topoisomerases. During this time, he published four first-author publications and was the recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award and several other awards.

After completing his doctoral studies, Omari accepted a post-doctoral fellowship within the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) where he studied the effects of human single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on p53-DNA interactions in response to DNA damaging agents. This work resulted in four publications, including one first-author publication, and him being a recipient of the NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE). During this time he also wrote several articles for the Environmental Factor, the official newsletter of the NIEHS.

After leaving the NIEHS, Omari accepted an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship within the Division of Toxicology at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). During this time, he introduced methods and analytical technologies to evaluate the performance of novel biomarkers of kidney injury in response to nephrotoxic food-related chemicals (i.e., melamine). This work resulted in two first-author publications. Omari also served as a contributing columnist for Bio Careers, an online career service provider that offers career resources to life science PhDs and MDs.

In 2013, Omari joined CFSAN’s Division of Food Contact Notifications as a toxicology reviewer. As a toxicology reviewer, he is responsible for conducting premarket safety assessments of food contact substances (e.g., coatings, plastics, paper, antimicrobials, and antioxidants) that are used in food containers and packaging to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.