Personalized Medicine Utilizing Pharmacogenomics to Improve

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					AWIS-SD Newsletter
July/August 2009
Vol. 17 Issue 4
This issue covers talks presented at the 2009 WIST conference on May 9th 2009.

Personalized Medicine: Utilizing Pharmacogenomics to Improve Patient Care
By Shannon Weiman

The cure for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease... the goals of biomedical research are lofty and
numerous. But progress has been slow, difficult, and inconclusive. As we struggle to understand the causes of
disease and create successful treatments, it is clear that individual differences play a huge role in disease
symptoms and response to therapeutics. The publication of the human genome project provided the material to
begin to understand the genetic basis of these differences; however, the application of personalized medicine
remains beyond our grasp. During their discussion at WIST, Dr. Edward and Linda McCabe outlined the current
status of the field, the obstacles impeding its progress, and what needs to be done in the future to successfully
implement new findings.

The first step to personalizing medicine is to identify genes that cause disease. This approach is overly simplistic
as interactions with other genetic or environmental factors may impact disease severity. For example,
Hemochromatosis is an autosomal recessive disease that results in increased blood iron levels and liver damage.
While all individuals showing symptoms of the disease carry at least one causative allele, many individuals with
this allele show no symptoms. Genetic and environmental factors such as mitochondrial genes, gender, and
alcohol consumption contribute to disease manifestation. Thus, identifying a single allele is not enough to
determine disease risk and contributing factors must be considered. Large-scale association studies will be
required to address these concerns.

Though using personalized medicine to predict disease is still a long way off, personalizing treatment for known
diseases is currently possible. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are the 4th leading cause of death in the US.
ADRs are caused by individual differences in drug targets or drug metabolizing enzymes, making some
individuals more likely than others to exhibit negative side effects. For example, the anticoagulant Warfarin is
an effective treatment to prevent strokes but has a high incidence of ADRs, which are associated with low
metabolism of the drug. By understanding the genetics of metabolism, drugs and dosages can be tailored to the
individual, reducing the risk of ADRs and preserving human life.

Other genetic and environmental factors can also interact and contribute to individual reactions to drug
treatments and ADRs. Genetic factors include polymorphisms in drug targets which may make an individual
more or less likely to be impacted by an ADR. Environmental factors include the use of other medications
which can impact drug metabolism if the same enzyme acts on both drugs. Again these variables make the
implementation of personalized medicine more challenging and underline the importance of integrating all
available information in research and the clinic to appropriately improve patient care.

Clearly we have accumulated a great deal of pharmacogenomic information; however, we have a long way to go
to achieve a personalized approach to medicine. This exciting new frontier will require enthusiasm,
commitment, and participation from the public and scientists alike as we work together to advance the field of
Career Development: Networking Strategies and Online Resources
Speakers: Judith Finlay, Dave Jensen
By: Paula Soto

I must preface this article by saying that I am not the most outgoing person in the world, and that whenever I
hear the word “networking” I cringe. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear that networking, as described by
Dave Jensen, Founder and Managing Director of CareerTrax, Inc., is not about calling people and asking for a
job. It is about learning from other people‟s experiences.

“Networking does involve contacting friends and acquaintances, but you need to move beyond that quickly,”
says Jensen. He compares looking for a job to wanting to join a private club. Therefore, you need to find
someone who already belongs to the club and who would be willing to sponsor you. When you contact people,
you should be asking them how they got into this company and what their day-to-day life is like. In addition,
you should try to contact people who are approximately two years ahead of you. They are more likely to be able
to empathize with your situation, since they were in the same boat not too long ago.

You should also be ready to answer some questions, and the most commonly asked question is “tell me
something about yourself.” Jensen suggests thinking carefully about your answer and having two versions of it,
a brief and a longer version so you can use the appropriate one depending on the situation. Another important
piece of advice: don‟t be afraid to promote yourself and speak positively about yourself. And you should always
end the conversation with “who else do you recommend I speak with?” in order to increase both your network
and your chances of learning from what others in the same company have gone through.

The second speaker, Judith Finlay, from The Binding Site, Inc. gave many examples of how networking helped
advance her own career. Notably, she mentioned getting a job from a person who had interviewed her more than
ten years earlier. Through her experiences, Finlay has learned a lot, and she shared these practical tips:
     Always carry business cards and a pen with you
     Attend many networking events (like the ones organized by, AWIS, and local
        professional meetings)
     Have your 30-second elevator speech ready (the “tell me about yourself” question)

And the last piece of advice from Finlay was a bit surprising: your primary intention when networking should be
to help others. You should meet new people and stay in touch with former colleagues not because they may be
able to help you, but because you might be able to help and connect with them in the future
Texarkana and a Top Ten: A WIST Keynote Address from Maria Freire
By Rachel Schwartz

Maria Freire, Ph.D., President of the Lasker Foundation, was the first featured keynote speaker of the Women in
Science and Technology Conference held on May 9th at the Salk Institute. Freire, “freeing herself from the
slavery of PowerPoint,” delivered a humorous and inspiring account of her history and her top lessons learned in

Freire was born and raised in Peru, growing up with great privilege, but also a sense that “you had to give back
in the measure in which you were given.” Although marriage and family were central to a woman‟s life at the
time, Freire was also taught that a career was an essential back-up plan.

After a Fulbright Fellowship enabled Freire to complete a Ph.D. in the US, she found that a military coup
inhibited her return to Peru. Freire joked, “My husband, who could have been a nit-wit, would have gotten a job
[in Peru]” since he was the head of the household. She, however, would not have been able to get a job, no
matter what her qualifications were. Instead of returning home, Freire followed her husband to Tennessee and
worked in a lab as a post-doc, a discouraging experience despite her love of science. “I realized I wasn‟t
brilliant… I couldn‟t figure out what the quantum leap needed to be.”

With this awareness, she began to resent her situation, feeling powerless about her prospects. However, she soon
found that inspiration sometimes comes in unexpected places. While en route to a biophysics conference in
Texas, Freire found herself at a little gas station in Texarkana, purchasing a life-changing book called “Having it
All” by Helen Gurley Brown. Brown‟s book motivated Freire to take control of her life. She began to look out
for opportunities and tackle experiences that led her to a successful technology transfer career, and later, lead
positions at TB Alliances and the Lasker Foundation.

Freire then shared an important observation about women and their accomplishments. While heading a
technology transfer office, she was surprised to find that her female staff trivialized their achievements
compared to the men. She strongly advised all in the audience: “think again and think hard” about what you‟ve
done and put yourself forward.

Freire ended her talk with her “biased and personal” top ten lessons learned:

   1) Surround yourself with people smarter than you, and appreciate and be loyal to them.
   2) When it comes to serendipity, you have to find where the opportunities are and be sensitive to
   3) Follow your gut.
   4) Take control. As Freire puts it, “No whining. No one is responsible for your life--you are.”
   5) There are three major circles in life: family, work, and oneself. Keep them balanced so that no
      more than one is ever out of line at any time.
   6) Work hard.
   7) Be generous, but be sincere.
   8) Take chances.
   9) Listen to people.
   10) Life is short, have fun. Freire said, “Impart laughter and joy to those around you.”

Freire had no problem executing this last point in her talk, providing an inspiring start to this year‟s WIST
Dear AWIS members,

WIST is behind us and what a wonderful day it was. Thank you to all of you that came and thank you for the
positive reviews that you gave us. The audience was wonderful, the speakers were high quality, and it was a
successful event. Once again I‟d like to thank Rachel Soloff, my fellow co-chair, and the organizing committee
for all the effort, ideas, and enthusiasm that they put into the event.

Looking forward, we‟re starting to build the Coffee Clubs. Shauna McGillivray has started the Early Career
Discussion Group, which has met a couple of times and had some great discussion. If you‟re a grad student or
postdoc and about to start looking for a job, or just started one, this is the group to discuss any questions or
issues you have. It‟s a forum where you could share contacts, discuss your interview experiences, or even get
others‟ opinions on staying in academia or moving to industry.

This morning was the initiation of the Mid-career Coffee Club, which was distinguished by a great discussion
on negotiation, also the subject of the recent Strategy Session. Negotiation is a skill that many find hard to
tackle and intimidating at first, but once you start taking the first few steps it becomes easier.

Also coming up is a Coffee Club for those who are self-employed. We have many AWIS members who are
consultants, writers, etc. and this is a great forum for you to get inspiration, advice and tips from each other.
Caroline Craig is spearheading this club, which will meet on July 15 at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 12730
Carmel Country Rd. Caroline would love to see many of you there.

As usual, if anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please don‟t hesitate to contact me at

Best wishes,
A Passion for Phoenix: WIST Plenary Session Speaker Karen McBride
By Rachel Schwartz

On Saturday May 9th, participants gathered at the Salk Institute for the ninth annual Women in Science and
Technology (WIST) Conference, entitled “Bridging the Gap.” Although previously named the Women in
bioScience Conference, this year‟s title helped reflect the AWIS-SD strategic plan to expand into other
technological disciplines. Ushering in the change, this year‟s conference featured Karen McBride, Ph.D., the
Mars Odyssey Program Executive and ExoMars Program Scientist for NASA, as one of two keynote speakers.

In her address, McBride delivered an exciting sampling of her work at NASA involving the Mars Phoenix
Project, the first northern polar mission to Mars. The Phoenix mission set out to explore the polar region and
address major questions like: What happened to the Martian water? What is/was the biological potential? Do the
poles indicate planetary climate change?

Getting to Mars is no small feat; the Phoenix was the third attempt following two failed missions to explore
Mars. However, on August 4th, 2007 the Phoenix took flight after what McBride described as a “beautiful
launch” to travel 422 million miles. Interestingly, when the Phoenix was ready to land on Mars after a ten month
journey, Mars was actually much closer to Earth.

McBride joked, “The navigation team was mostly men, and I think they forgot to ask for directions” when
planning the flight trajectory.

The audience came to really appreciate the triumphs in space engineering when McBride illustrated one of the
most difficult aspects of the Mars mission—landing the Phoenix in four minutes after traveling 13,000 mph. A
film from NASA headquarters captured the nail-biting moment, with each play-by-play of Phoenix activity
punctuated with cheers from the Phoenix team. All the hard work was evident after the successful landing when
the room erupted with celebration and hugs all around from “people who don‟t normally do this.”

McBride next awed the audience with pictures of the Phoenix lander and the Martian terrain, and some
discoveries made during the mission. One picture showed a patch of ice underneath the lander, aptly named
“holy cow” for the reactions of the NASA scientists. Other highlights included the static-ridden Martian soil, the
finding of percholate and liquid water, and pictures of frost forming. One had to wonder if life would have been
possible at one time on this planet.

McBride completed our mission experience with a brief history of the meandering path leading her to space
exploration. It began with a graduate education in geochemistry. However, the loss of NSF funding led her to a
job in the film industry. Although far from science, the experience she gained in writing proposals to secure
funding was invaluable to her later projects involving geology on Mt. Everest, plasma physics, and satellite
imaging for the LA Fire Department.

“I still don‟t know what I want to be when I grow up,” said McBride. She advised everyone to take
opportunities--you never know where they may lead.

For more about the Mars Phoenix project, visit:
Frontiers in Science: Biofuels
Speakers: Fernanda Gandara, Stephen Mayfield, Janet Roemer
By: Paula Soto

The one point all speakers seemed to agree on was this: Cost is one of the main obstacles in making biofuels a
viable alternative.

Janet Roemer, Executive Vice President of the Specialty Enzymes Business Unit for Verenium, highlighted the
importance of identifying economic technologies that would allow the conversion of biomass into ethanol. The
focus at Verenium is to use a renewable and inexpensive energy source, like plant waste materials, or cellulose,
to produce ethanol. Cellulose is one of the most abundant molecules on earth, and therefore makes a great
candidate for making biofuels. Verenium takes the unusual approach of using unique microorganisms, called
ethanologens, to ferment cellulose and hemicellulose into ethanol. They are able to produce approximately
1,800 gallons of ethanol per acre, processing nearly two tons of biomass per day into ethanol. They list at least
five advantages to using plant waste as the raw material for biofuels:

1) use of non-food crops will prevent the tightening of the food supply and increases in cost of food;
2) relatively low feedstock cost;
3) use of marginal lands for feedstock growth;
4) beneficial net energy balance;
5) use of less fertilizer and water.

Following the idea of using unique microorganisms to develop more efficient and environmentally friendly
fuels, the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB) was established in 2008 to support
development of innovative, sustainable, and commercially viable algae-based biotechnology solutions for
renewable energy, green chemistry, bio-products, and water conservation. Representing the efforts of the SD-
CAB, Stephen Mayfield, Professor and Associate Dean at The Scripps Research Institute, discussed the
development of engineering micro-algae for the production of biofuels. Interestingly, he also highlighted the fact
that ethanol is a poor fuel because it is not energy dense. Genetically engineered algae to produce natural oils
that would then be converted to gasoline is a viable alternative. Mayfield also brought up an interesting point
about what oil companies are doing to deal with the effects of climate change: they are building taller oil rigs so
that they can sustain the predicted increase in sea water levels!

The last session speaker was Fernanda Gandara, Vice President of Synthetic Genomics. Originally from Brazil,
Gandara has firsthand knowledge of the successful use of ethanol as an alternative fuel. In Brazil, 50% of cars
use ethanol as fuel mostly because the government from the 1970‟s made it a priority to invest in and develop
alternative fuels. At Synthetic Genomics, scientists are attempting to tackle the difficulties of recovering
biofuels by engineering algae that secrete the product, in order to bypass the need for extraction. According to
Gandara, the challenge now is to grow, harvest, and extract fuel from algae in an economic manner, and scale
the production to the amounts needed to supply the high demand for fuel at a reasonable price.

In the case of Brazil, the commitment by the government to invest in alternative fuels has given proven results.
The US government also seems to be making a commitment to the future of biofuels, and judging by the
developments presented at this workshop, the investment is already paying off.
The Entrepreneur: Do you have what it takes?

On May 9th, Katherine Bowdish, CEO of Anaphore, and Wendy Johnson, venture partner at ProQuest
Investments, told WIST attendees what skills and personality traits are required to be a successful entrepreneur.
Kathy was a post-doc at Scripps and took a couple years off from work to start to a family before considering a
start-up. Kathy described the first couple years as „learning on the fly‟ and „getting beaten down a lot.‟
Persistence, perseverance, and support from mentors and family were keys to her success. She accepted every
challenge, listened carefully to people, and took time to deliberate critical decisions. Wendy majored in
microbiology and worked in a hospital lab briefly after graduation, but knew early on that she wanted to be „the
boss.‟ She worked for the FDA long enough to get them to pay for her MBA and then left to take on senior
business and corporate development positions with several companies before starting her own. Together, Kathy
and Wendy presented what they both believe one should consider before „jumping in.‟

First, and maybe most obvious, is finding funding. Fifty percent of start-ups close in five years, so there is a
financial risk for all investors. Banks won‟t lend without a track record, so private investors must be sought out.
Finding investors can take mounds of perseverance and determination. Surrounding oneself with people target
investors know is helpful, maybe necessary. There are some supportive organizations such as Astia
( and agencies that are helpful such as UCSD Connect and Springboard. NIH offers a $100K
small business initiator research (SBIR) award, but read the rules carefully. When the money does come, it is
typically followed by an immense workload. Expect sixty plus hours a week, a lot of traveling, no vacations and
being the last to receive a salary. Naturally, time for relationships is sacrificed. An unsupportive spouse will
probably not be a happy one, and children may not get ideal quality parenting time. Consider a business partner-
one person lends the idea, another lends the skills. Partnerships are usually more successful than solo ventures,
but choose carefully. These are just the logistics, but what kind of a person makes a successful entrepreneur?

Running a business means being an administrator in the beginning and being comfortable making decisions
„with no playbook.‟ It is advisable to create a trustworthy and dependable board of mentors or find someone to
consult. These could even be employees who have valuable input. It can take a lot of effort to seek out reliable
guidance, but this can be crucial. Find someone to talk to. An entrepreneur is someone who initiates projects,
follows through, and assumes leadership roles. An entrepreneur is well-spoken, persuasive, a strong
communicator, and believes in what they are selling. It is hard to raise money with a fear of speaking, so leap
that hurdle if it exists. An entrepreneur faces a lot of discouragement and won‟t last if they get deterred easily.
In essence, this job takes creativity, willpower, optimism, energy, patience, and determination.
Think you got it? What‟s the first step? Have a story, a pitch. Comprise this in a two-page summary and power
point deck not exceeding ten slides. Then get out there and find the people who will invest in it!
Work-Life Balance Session: Sandra and Robert Rickert, and Hima Joshi.
By Norma Velazquez-Ulloa.

Most women in science strive to achieve work-life balance. Any tips on how to achieve that balance always
seem to be welcomed, which explains the high attendance at this WIST 2009 workshop led by Sandra and
Robert Rickert, two scientists with children, and by Hima Joshi, a scientist who now teaches.

Sandra and Robert Rickert started the workshop. They addressed four key decisions they had to make: starting a
family, job choice, where to live, and daycare type and location. Once they decided to have a family, other
decisions followed. Sandra transitioned from being a scientist in biotech to a project management position when
their first child was born, while Robert continued on an academic track. Deciding where to live was also based
on having options where both could find good job prospects. Once their child was born, the main decision was
about finding a close daycare that would work for them. Sandra Rickert shared the following advice:
     Carpooling can be “quality time”
     Form a support network with friends and family
     Save a significant part of your weekends for things that you like
     Subcontract if possible (dog walker, housekeeper, landscaper)
     Try to have a structured but flexible home routine.
     Allow for freedom and individuality; schedule “me time”
     Don‟t internalize…but don‟t constantly vent
     Be selective about business travel
     Limit social time at work
     Find a job that uses your natural strengths (less stress, more fun)
     Consider a position that allows you to work from home at times.
     Don‟t limit ambitions or you‟ll become resentful.
     Do not compromise all the time, instead try to find the right fit for you.

Hima Joshi continued the workshop. I personally liked her outlook on work-life balance. For Joshi, work is a
subset of life, just like hobbies are another part of life. Joshi leads a very active life with multiple activities
outside her job, including singing, writing, fitness, and arts classes. This is a way of living for Joshi; it is the
way she grew up, and these activities have a great value for her. At different points of her life she has had to
adjust how much time she devotes to these activities versus work. For example, she scaled back during college
and grad school, but she never stopped having activities outside school. To do this, she has prioritized according
to the balance between work and other parts of life. The first step is to identify one‟s priorities. For Joshi, these
include enjoyment of work, physical and mental health, and spending time with her husband and with friends.
By giving each of these priorities their proper weight she has been able to achieve balance. It is important to
keep things flexible, so the weight assigned to a priority can vary according to the circumstances at hand. For
instance, deciding to tip the balance towards her career and away from her husband for a time, to now putting
more weight on being with her husband. Joshi also shared some key choices that have allowed her to maintain a
balanced life:
     Finding professionals and organizations that help her keep up with her hobbies.
     Being discreet about other outside activities to maintain a good reputation at work.
     Choosing a job that she enjoys and that fits her personality.
     Accepting her personality.
     Accepting she might not get the approval of her parents.
     Waiting to have kids.
Why Would One Go Back to School?
By Mindy I. Davis

To increase your market value! Sharon Wampler, Ph.D. and Co-Founder and Vice President of Bio4Front, Inc
and Elaine Weidenhammer, Ph.D., MBA and Senior Manager of Market Development at ResMed spoke to a
packed room at WIST 2009 on “Continuing Education and Your Market Value".

Wampler pointed out how important it is work on both your IQ (intelligence quotient) and your EQ (emotional
quotient or soft/people skills), especially since 85% of scientists are introverts. EQ consists of self-awareness,
self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. She said that if you always seem surrounded
by problems, it is time to look at yourself to see what you contribute to these problems. She recommended the
book “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. Writing, communicating, managing, and leading are all
important skills to develop. Volunteering, apprenticeships, or internships as well as life in general can also help
you with your soft skills. It's important to know what you know and what you don't know and either educate
yourself or hire somebody who complements your skills and let them excel.

Wampler gave three reasons to consider continuing your "life-long learning":
   to gain skills you need for your current job,
   to qualify for an advancement or promotion
   to transition to a new type of job.

Wampler recommended a variety of extension programs at UCSD, UCLA and UC Davis. Additional
opportunities include the Rady School of business half-day courses (which are currently half price) and
community colleges, which offer free adult continuing education classes in San Diego. Wampler also
recommended a nine day class in Paris on "Learning as Leadership" that she attended. The class changed her
life and was worth every penny. Wampler also recommended furthering your skills and specialties as well as
working on your deficits.

Elaine Weidenhammer said that in business there is an incredible amount of on-the-job learning and having an
MBA does not necessarily mean you are “trained.” For someone with a Ph.D., business can seem "kind of
fuzzy.” There aren't "50 facts" you can learn to excel in business. Weidenhammer described her business school
experience and said, “you will spend more time in meetings than you thought possible, and will be assigned a
group of people you don't know to be in your group for a year, some of whom you won't like. You will spend
most of your time analyzing case studies and graded on your contribution to the discussion.” All of this can be
traumatizing for a scientist. In business school, you maintain a broad focus, unlike the depth of study often
required for a Ph.D. project. For Weidenhammer, the most significant gain of an MBA is not the degree itself but
the network of classmates, guest speakers, and teachers that you develop during the process. Locally she
recommended Rady, USD, SDSU, UCI, USC and UCLA for MBA programs. Each program has a different
focus that can be discerned from their websites. Most programs offer three formats: full-time, part-time
(evenings) and executive (every other week all day Friday and Saturday). Cornell also has an accelerated one
year full-time program especially for Ph.D. scientists.

“How do you know you are ready for the time and money investment in a MBA?” asked an audience member.
Wampler recommended testing the water with some extension classes first. Weidenhammer recommended
reading “The Ten Day MBA” by Steven Silbiger; if you find it boring and fall asleep, a MBA is unlikely to be a
good fit.
How to Maximize your Postdoc: Tracy Johnson and Siobhan Malany.
By Norma Velazquez-Ulloa.

There are several points in life when big decisions need to be made. For someone in a scientific field, one of
these points is what to do after getting a doctoral degree. If following the academic track, the next step is
postdoctoral research. However, it is possible to do a postdoc in academia or in industry. Tracy Johnson, an
assistant professor at UCSD, and Siobhan Malany, a project scientist in industry, led this WIST workshop,
taking attendees through the process of selecting a postdoctoral position, making the most of it, and moving on
in an academic and industry settings.

Tracy Johnson had the following suggestions for each stage of the process.
Before applying for the postdoc:
    Think about what you want to do and where you want to be in the future.
    Choose a PI who will be a good mentor.
    Determine whether you will be able to take your research with you when you leave. Try to find a way to
       not become your PI‟s competitor.
    Find out where former postdocs in your prospective lab are now.
    Find out about fellowship opportunities? Will your PI help?
    Determine lab and institution resources. Where is the lab? What does the institution provide for

Applying for the postdoc:
    Send a letter introducing yourself that shows you are aware of the research in the lab. Be specific about
       your interest, but show that you are open to options within the lab.
    If possible, interact with the PI at a scientific meeting.
    Request recommendation letters from your current PI, doctoral committee members, professors, and
       former PIs.

During the postdoc:
    Think about the project you want to carry out. Use the postdoc to expand your repertoire while
       integrating what you know already.
    Find ways to pursue other interests.
    Think about what you want to achieve in terms of publications.
    Get as much exposure as you can. Give seminars, go to meetings, and set up independent collaborations.

Moving on:
   Assess whether you are really ready to leave.
   Finish up everything as much as possible before you start applying for positions.
   Put together your application package including a cover letter, research plan, teaching plan, a research
      talk, a chalk talk, and recommendation letters.
   Plan for travel time and following up with people you meet at each interview.
   Increase your exposure at meetings and at your local institution.
   If possible, apply for a transition grant.
   Don‟t get discouraged before trying.

For Siobhan Malany, the postdoc is an opportunity to diversify, but you should not leave your previous skills
behind. General advice she gave the audience included the following:
    Be honest with your PI when you know it is time to move on. Prime your PI for your departure and set
     specific goals.
    Maintain visibility during the postdoc and at the end of the postdoc.
    Maintain and increase your network wherever you go.

Malany did her first postdoc in academia, but then wanted to transition to industry. She got a position that was
not her first choice but allowed her to get her foot in the door, establish contacts, and learn how to sell herself.

Things to consider when looking for a position in industry are:
    The company‟s goals, and how you fit in
    What you want from the company
    The field you are interested in and the company you are planning to apply to
    Insider information, which can be gathered by meetings people who are already at the company

Some of the resources Malany has used include strategy sessions, leadership skills from AWIS San Diego, and
networking inside and outside AWIS. Malany stressed the importance of asking your contacts about the job
market to find out which companies are expanding and the direction of the expansion, and those that might have
openings in the near future. Your contacts can also be useful to get your resume to the right person. This kind of
delivery puts you in the category of a colleague, instead of an unknown candidate, and may make a difference in
landing a job.
Are You Itchy?
By Mindy I. Davis

How do you know if it is "Time to Move On"? Grace DeSantis, Ph.D., Director at Biosite Inc, spoke about
“Itchy Analysis” at the WIST Conference Workshop titled "Time to Move On.” The “Itchy Analysis” is asking
yourself whether you are itching to do something else. Do you need a new challenge? Are you getting more or
less marketable each day for the job you are itching to go to? DeSantis said that if you wait too long, your salary
could become too high for a lateral move into a new area, so make sure that you are progressing towards your
goal at your current job. If you want to move you need to think of your goals. Do your career goals align with
current industry trends?

Another recommendation was to do the SWOT analysis before deciding on a move. SWOT Analysis is a
strategic planning method, credited to Albert Humphrey of Stanford University, to evaluate a project or business
                                      S= Strengths
                                      W= Weakness
                                      O= Opportunities
                                      T= Threats

How does one get ready for a change? DeSantis advised taking UCSD extension classes in a new area. She also
recommended establishing a "personal board of directors" that is as diverse as possible to assist you with your
career transition. It is particularly important to try to find people who have made similar transitions.

An audience member asked "How do you minimize hurt feelings when you leave your current job?" DeSantis
advised talking to your mentors/stakeholders early (if you can trust them). "Make sure you are going to
something and not away from something." To address an audience concern that they want to wait before making
a change, since their company might make it big in the next two years, DeSantis elicited quite a lot of laughs
when she said, "all of our companies are always on the verge of becoming very successful, so we will become
really wealthy."

Sara Courtneidge, Ph.D., Program Co-Director and Professor at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research,
was the second speaker at the workshop. Courtneidge has had diverse experiences in both Europe and the US
and at both profit and non-profit institutions. Courtneidge said that she is bored easily, is not risk averse, and is
impulsive. When contemplating a decision, she makes a pros and cons list and "listens to her gut." Courtneidge
also said you can tell it is time to move on when you are itchy to move. When she left a tenured position at
EMBL to pursue a job at Sugen back in the U.S., people asked her how and why she could leave such a "plum
job". For Courtneidge, having this tenured position was no longer enough, and it was time for a new challenge.
After six years at SUGEN, Courtneidge wanted more freedom, so she went back to a non-profit institute, the
Burnham Institute for Medical Research.

There was a very lively Q&A session. In answer to an audience question about sticking it out, Courtneidge said
it's important to love what you do, "but that doesn't mean every day or even every year." Courtneidge added that
you would have found your sweet spot when you jump out of bed in the morning and go to work and can't
believe they pay you to do it. Grace Nakayama, Ph.D., Senior Program Manager at Biogen Idec, recommended
using on-line personality skills assessment tools to figure out where to go. These tools showed her that she
would make a good administrator (and not a forester). Courtneidge‟s assessment suggested mathematics and she
may make that move next.

Courtneidge addressed queries about the post-doctoral experience abroad. It is important to maintain visibility in
the U.S. Is your PI invited to conferences in the U.S.? Is he/she well-known in the U.S.? That will be
important if you want to come back. Courtneidge also advised to "get into the best lab you can so you can be
surrounded by people who push you," since you are not there on a vacation. She recommended doing a postdoc
unless you are in one of the lucky fields that don't require it, such as formulations, chemistry, pharmacology and
bioinformatics. A postdoc will make transitions easier if you try industry and later decide to head back to

Are you itchy? Is it "Time to Move On"? The bottom-line is to be 100% committed to your decision and make
sure you are moving to something and not from something.
WIST Explores Teaching as a Career with UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor Barbara Sawrey
By Erin Dunn
No matter what career track you are on, you have likely thought about teaching at some point, even if it was just
a fleeting thought. You might not even realize that you have been a teacher at one time or another, training
someone new at work, mentoring an undergraduate or high school student, maybe you just helped your niece
with her homework. Did you enjoy it? Are you curious about how the teaching system works at high school
and university level? Then read on…
On May 9th, at the Salk Institute, Barbara Sawrey, Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education and
faculty member at UCSD, spoke to WIST conference attendees about the organization of the California
educational system, the different teaching jobs available, and what is required of an applicant.
Different institutions of interest may include high schools, community colleges, four-year universities, and non-
traditional schools. Four-year universities may be research-intensive, teaching-only, or predominantly
undergraduate. There are also ways to get involved in education without being a teacher, such as being an editor
or curriculum planner. Requirements for high school teaching vary greatly by state, but generally a B.S. and
certification is required. Private schools may have different requirements. Community colleges require a M.S.
and a PhD. is common. Full time or permanent positions at community colleges are hard to find and extremely
competitive. With an unreliable economy, it is cheaper for the school to hire part time teachers and not have to
provide benefits.
A teacher at a four-year university in California will be classified as „academic senate‟ or „non-senate‟ faculty.
Academic Senate includes full time professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and lecturers with
security of employment. Their responsibilities include research, teaching, and service. Non-senate faculty are
lecturers. They are obligatory union members and include part time positions. All employees get benefits and
one to three year contracts. Other states may not be organized in the same manner and systems change
periodically, so stay informed.
There are two documents every teacher applicant must be armed with: a teaching statement and a teaching
portfolio. The statement can make or break an application. It is 1-2 pages and very personalized. The employer
wants to know why you want to teach, how you engage students, what you know about education technology,
any hot issues you are aware of in your field, and your specific skills or knowledge. It can be tailored to the
school but it is based on the applicant‟s experience. This brings up the teaching portfolio, which includes
courses taught, sample exercises and quizzes, outreach experience, evaluations, and any activities or innovations
developed. No experience? Don‟t fret; there are many ways to get it. Offer to lecture in a course offered by
your research advisor. Look for sabbatical replacement and teaching post-doc positions. Teach an evening or
weekend community college course. TA, tutor, organize a journal club, mentor an undergrad, just do something
that shows independent instruction. When searching for a position, one should consider tenure, contract,
workload, union membership, and expectations for grant-writing and publications. And here‟s a tip: don‟t
assume different titles, like „adjunct‟ or „associate,‟ carry the same meaning at every institution; get clarification
when applying for a job.
So let‟s say you get your first teaching job. Congratulations! Just a few more words of advice from Barbara: if
you are not given a mentor, ask for one! Speak to the chair of the department on this matter. First time teaching
means about ten hours of preparation for each hour in the classroom. She also highly recommends a few
published references: Wilbert McKeachie‟s Teaching Tips: A Guidebook for the Beginning College Teacher, and
two pamphlets, How to Get a Tenure-Track Position at a PUI (predominantly undergraduate institute; and How People Learn (
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Adams