I am a Neurobiologist who has made the transition to a career in Science Policy, Scientific Admnistration, and Nonprofit Management. I currently head Ciencia Puerto Rico, where my main tasks are to oversee the expansion of its programs and the securing of funding.
I have a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley where I had a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship to study synaptic transmission in Drosophila and develop new tools for the imaging of neuronal function. At Berkeley I was a joint-student in the labs of Dr. Ehud Isacoff and Dr. Corey Goodman. I received my B.S. in Biology from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Rio Piedras where I performed research in the lab of Dr. Braulio Jiménez (Escuela de Farmacia). As an undegrad I participated in summer research experiences at Cambridge University, in England with James Ajioka, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with William G. Thilly. I also received a Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award to perform research at the NIHwith Susan Wray prior to starting graduate school.
I made my transition to the field of science policy and research administration through a National Academies Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Graduate Fellowship where I worked on public outreach efforts about the importance of stem cell research. I then went on to work at NIH through the Department of Health and Human Services Emerging Leaders Program and had the chance to do rotations with the FDA (Biologics Policy and Regulations); the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS (implementing the International Health Regulations across the US government and monitoring cooperative agreements to foreign countries for infectious diseases surveillance); the NIH Office of Extramural Research (working on policies for the biomedical research workforce); and the NIAID Office of Global Research.
From 2008 until 2010, I worked as a Health Science Policy Analyst at the National Institute for Neurologiacl Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) at the NIH, helping communicate scientific advances and the importance of research to members of Congress and the public, and helping to assess the performance of NINDS and NIH in fostering research that will lead to new neurological insights and therapies. Prior to leading CienciaPR, I was Head of Science Policy at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, MI, where I helped establish new research programs in the areas of biospecimen science and bioreopsitory services, pediatric oncology research, and personalized medicine, and where I also helped develop research policies and career development programs for faculty. I was also course director for a graduate class on Responsible and Effective Conduct of Research.
I have an interminable list of scientific and policy interests but top among them are: stem cell research, scientific education and public understanding of science, research training and the biomedical workforce, global health, and capacity building in developing countries. I would be happy to talk with anyone who wants to learn more about careers in science policy or science administration, ways in which scientists might get involved in policy-making, or anything else pertaining to my background.