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Office of Education

Brenda Hanning, Director, Office of Education Yvette Pittman, Associate Director, Office of Education
  • Brenda Hanning, Director, Office of Education
  • Yvette R. Pittman, PhD, Associate Director

The Office of Education delivers workshops, programs, and individualized opportunities to a population averaging 320 trainees, including postdoctoral, visiting, and research fellows; clinical fellows and medical students; graduate students; and postbaccalaureate and technical fellows. Typical activities include public speaking workshops, job interviewing, writing and editorial services, grantsmanship, career presentations and counseling, teaching opportunities through the NICHD “Becoming an Effective Scientist” course for postbaccalaureate fellows, teaching-skills workshops, and management programs. Each spring, a retreat for fellows and graduate students, which includes presentations by fellows and a poster presentation by each attendee, is held for over 80 people to address scientific developments and careers. The program is developed and run by a fellow/student steering committee.

Goals and Objectives

The intramural Office of Education was established in September 2004 to support the training needs of intramural scientists, fellows, and students at all levels. This is achieved through recruitment and development of academic support programs; support of accreditation; contributions to mentoring, evaluation, and career guidance; and creation of new training initiatives. Additional areas of involvement include career development programming, networking among fellows and alumni, grantsmanship, and the enhancement of fellows’ competitiveness for awards, as well as support of new tenure-track investigators.

Notable accomplishments of the past year

In spring 2014, the Division of Intramural Research gave its seventh Mentor of the Year awards to investigator Brant Weinstein and postdoctoral fellow Elias Leiva-Salcedo. FARE (Fellows Award for Research Excellence) 2014 awards went to 22 applicants. The NICHD Scholars Developing Talent program, established in 2011, added two new postbaccalaureate fellows, Nicole Millan (lab of Erin Wolff) and Gian Rodriquez (lab of Forbes D. Porter); MD/PhD students Dezmond Taylor-Douglas and Ashleigh Bouchelion continue as scholars with Drs. Yanovski and Mukherjee, respectively. Office of Education program activities included the annual grantsmanship workshop, the third year of a teaching workshop series led by Boots Quimby of the University of Maryland, and public speaking workshops, among others. Our annual "Becoming an Effective Scientist" course, organized and taught by fellows for postbaccalaureate trainees, entered its ninth year. The tenth annual meeting of fellows took place at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and featured keynote speakers Nobelist Eric Wieschaus of Princeton University and Sherri Bale, an NICHD alumna and the Managing Director of GeneDx. A new competition, TmT or the Three-minute Talks, was launched this year to emphasize the importance to scientists of communicating their research in an accessible way. Contestants participated in speaking workshops and were judged by internal and external panels of judges, leading to the following awards: 1st place, Alex Ritter (Lippincott-Schwartz lab); 2nd place, Eva Szarek (Stratakis lab); and Monica Gupta (Ozato lab), recipient of the People's Choice Award. Video clips of each winning talk were presented to the NICHD Director's advisory council. Along with new scientific orientations for fellows, developed and launched by Yvette Pittman, the Individualized Development Plan was actively promoted for all fellows, using myIDP on the Science Careers web site. The Fellows Intramural Grant Supplement (FIGS) continues to recognize grant applicants and awardees with stipend increases; and the Fellows Recruitment Incentive Award, launched in 2013, promotes the recruitment of postdoctoral fellows from backgrounds under-represented in science. The NICHD Connection, a monthly newsletter run and written by fellows, will publish its 55th issue in December 2014; it continues to highlight programs and fellows' scientific successes.

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