Meet Chelsea Lane, Health Scientist Administrator at the NIH

Chelsea Lane, Health Scientist Administrator, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID), Office of Scientific Coordination and Program Operations (OSCPO).

Describe what you do on a day-to-day basis.

My primary responsibility in OSCPO is to communicate information about DMID-supported research and its significance.  I also provide input on science policy and planning, and assist in the management of the Division’s extensive grants and contracts portfolios.  Lastly, I am a Division Coordinator for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs – in this capacity, I address policy questions from SBIR/STTR investigators, and assist investigators with finding relevant funding opportunities.

How did you find your first job out of academia?

Through a number of informational interviews.  Specifically, I reconnected with a colleague of mine from graduate school who was a former AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow placed at the State Department.  I was intrigued by the AAAS S&T Fellowship Program, and the placement opportunities it provides fellows across the federal government.

What is your favorite part of your current job?

One of the things that energizes me in my current position is that I enjoy working in a team environment.  On a day-to-day basis, I get to interact with individuals with diverse backgrounds and training, including but not limited to scientists, public health specialists, lawyers, and policy and budget analysts.  It is really fascinating to see how everyone works together in the pursuit of a common goal.

What are the unique challenges of this line of work? 

I think one unique challenge in my current line of work is the wide range of projects that I am involved in.  In contrast to academic research, where you become an expert in a particular field, in my current line of work as a Health Scientist Administrator, my experience and knowledge base has become much broader – I have become a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.  While this may be challenging at times, I would also say that this type of work is exciting to me and keeps me on my toes.

Tell us about your academic background.

I am a microbiologist with a background in infectious diseases and host-pathogen interactions.  My graduate work focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogens that cause urinary tract infections.  My postdoctoral research focused on the study of plague disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking for a job now? 

Do not wait to do informational interviews until you need a job – start doing informational interviews with scientists outside academia early on to learn what interests you and to grow your network.  That way, you will be more prepared when positions are available and you know what you want to pursue.

Learn more about Chelsea on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: Statements made in this blog post are in my personal capacity and do not represent the views of NIAID, the NIH or the federal government.

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