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Introduction to Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy

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Eli Kane

This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline.

Dr. Nicole Catanzarite chaired this webinar. She is a neuroscience policy liaison in the DC Metro Area Chapter of SfN and a former Early Career Policy Ambassador with SfN.

Introduction with Dr. Nicole Catanzarite

Everyone, thank you for attending our webinar, “Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy.” My name is Nicole Catanzarite and I’ll be chairing and moderating this webinar. On the agenda for today, we will cover an introduction to science policy and discuss some skills for success. You'll hear from our panelists who will tell their stories and talk about the various career sectors that they are in, which include the federal government, a regulatory agency, policy consulting, and government relations. Then we will discuss some resources for you to use to transition into a career in science policy, and then we'll have some time for Q&A. So again, my name is Nicole Catanzarite. I’m chairing this webinar and currently I am a neuroscience policy liaison in the DC Metro Area Chapter of SfN and a former Early Career Policy Ambassador with SfN. Our panelists in the order that they will be presenting are: Vijeth Iyengar from HHS, Kimberly Maxfield from the FDA, Amy Hein from Ripple Effect, and Adriana Bankston from the University of California.

First, we just want to give you a bit of a definition of science policy. Science policy is concerned with the allocation of resources for the conduct of science towards the goal of best serving the public interest. Some topics include science funding, career and workforce development, and translation of scientific discoveries into technological innovation. Some goals of science policy include promoting commercial product development, competitiveness, and economic growth and development. When you hear about science policy, you might have heard that there is science for policy and policy for science. There are two sides to science policy. Science for policy involves scientific findings used as the basis for the development of public policy, while policy for science involves government laws, regulations and policies that affect the practice of science.

There are some essential skills for science policy that you might want to keep in mind as you hear the panelists stories. Think about whether you've started to develop these and think about how these kinds of skills apply to the kind of work that our panelists are doing. Some of these skills include acquiring a broad knowledge of science and applications, the ability to learn about new issues quickly, and the ability to communicate technical concepts to diverse audiences concisely and accurately. If any of you are already involved in outreach, through your graduate programs or postdocs, you might already have experience with another set of skills: consensus building, networking, and relationship building.



Vijeth Iyengar Headshot.
Vijeth Iyengar, PhD
Vijeth Iyengar is the brain health lead and technical advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for aging at the Administration for Community Living (ACL), an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most recently Iyengar completed a nearly year-long secondment as a Policy Advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (WH-OSTP) where his portfolio focused on the role of emerging technologies in the areas of brain health, dementia, and neuroscience. In his role as brain health lead, he oversaw the development, dissemination, and data collection of a request for information that sought input on ways to assess changes in cognitive health status among homebound older adults. Iyengar received his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, and his doctoral degrees from Duke University.
Amy Hein headshot.
Amy Hein, PhD
Amy Hein is the senior director with Ripple Effect. Hein received her PhD in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Colorado. She has worked in a number of scientific and policy positions, with the National Academies of Science, NASA, and the American Psychological Association, including key work on a Congressionally requested study to assess U.S. higher education.
Adriana Bankston headshot.
Adriana Bankston, PhD
Adriana Bankston is a principal legislative analyst at the University of California Office of Federal Governmental Relations in Washington, DC. Prior to this position, Bankston was a Policy & Advocacy Fellow at the Society for Neuroscience. She is also the chief executive officer and managing publisher of the Journal of Science Policy and Governance, a biomedical workforce and policy research investigator at the STEM Advocacy Institute, and a member of the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition Steering Committee. She earned her PhD in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology from Emory University.
Nicole Catanzarite headshot.
Nicole Catanzarite, PhD
Nicole Catanzarite serves as the NeuroPolicy Liaison in the DC Metro Area Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience and previously served as a Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Ambassador. Catanzarite received her PhD in neuroscience and cognitive science from the University of Maryland.
Kimberly Maxfield headshot.
Kimberly Maxfield, PhD
Kimberly Maxfield is currently serving as a guidance and policy lead in the Food and Drug Administration Office of Clinical Pharmacology (OCP) with a focus on the intersection between drug development, policy, and regulation of therapeutic proteins. Additionally, Kimberly helped establish, develop, recruit, and mentor fellows for the OCP Fellowship for training in policy development and regulatory science, a fellowship program aimed at identifying new leaders for the advancement of new drug development and promote therapeutic individualization through policy evaluation and development. She received her PhD in pharmacology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Her doctorate focused on the systematic dissection of tumor cell biology through pan-genomic high throughput screening for the rational design of new therapeutic and dose combinations. Prior to joining the OCP, she completed two fellowships at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the FDA in health policy and regulatory science, respectively. These fellowships focused on the clinical implementation of immunotherapies, drug development paradigms in oncology, and the public health impact of FDA external engagement.
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  • Amanda Kimball changed the title to Introduction to Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy

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