This issue of the newsletter is available as a PDF. Past issues can be found here.
AWIS-SD President's Letter
By Dorothy (Dody) Sears
Dear Fellow AWIS-SD Members & Friends,
I would like to start out by congratulating our recent Outstanding Volunteer Awardees who were announced at our 12th Annual Open House on November 7th! Achievement in Innovation – Maha Gebara-Lamb, Ellen Dunn and April Cresse; Rookie of the Year – Margie Mathewson, Helena Sun and Shelly Trigg; Achievement in Outreach or Community Service – Vicki Hurless and Laura Cerviño; Outstanding Volunteer – Barb Davids; Leadership Service – Supriya Gaitonde; President’s Award – Janice Payne. AWIS-SD is able to accomplish much because of outstanding volunteers like these amazing women. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the ad hocOpen House Committee, led by Diane Retallack and Barb Davids, for organizing an outstanding event. Thanks to all who participated in Chapter-fundraising through their Silent Auction purchases and to Janssen Labs, our venue sponsor. If you would like to become an AWIS-SD volunteer, check out our eight standing committees (www.awissd.org and click on the “Get Involved” tab) and/or our ad hoc 2014 Scholarship Gala Committee. The Gala event will be held this spring to honor our 2014 Scholars. If you are interested in helping to organize this wonderful event, please contact the
What else have we been up to? Well, first of all, I am proud and honored to announce that we have been awarded the Star Chapter designation by AWIS National! This is the first year for the Star Chapter Award and we are thrilled to have this formal recognition. There are twelve criteria required for this award that support the AWIS Strategic Plan designed to ensure that women in STEM fields are able to achieve their full potential. These criteria are, in part, covered by our event and outreach programming. Recent examples include the Outreach Committee’s annual participation in ChemExpo and hosting of their 4th annual “Exploring Careers in Science and Engineering: A Day for Undergraduate Women.” Other recent events include Happy Hour at the H Bar and the “Enhance Your Presentation Impact” Strategy Session. I encourage you to check out the wonderful articles in this Newsletter to “get the scoop” on these events.
Before that Holiday Season is over, we will have several more great events to attend. On November 21st, join us for an event we are co-sponsoring the UCSD AMWA and GradWISE entitled “Balancing Act: Career & Personal Life.” Dr. Jean Twenge will present “How long can you wait to have a baby?” and there will be a panel discussion including UCSD faculty, trainees, and guests. Our next Strategy Session “Enhance Your Team Building” will be held on Dec 2nd and our first ever Speed Mentoring Event will be on Dec 16th. Also, we will have a New Year Social on Jan 9th, rather than our traditional holiday social, and look forward to celebrating the year past and the year ahead! Join us at these events for great networking, learning and discussion. Look for details and registration information about these events in our bi-weekly AWIS-SD events emails.
It is with great fondness that I write this, my last Newsletter letter as President of AWIS San Diego. I assumed presidency in September 2010 after the elected President Huong Huynh accepted a terrific job opportunity with the FDA. I enjoyed serving as President so much that I ran for a second term in 2011 and have never regretted it for a single moment. It is not possible for me to appropriately describe the outstanding relationships, career development, team work, and support that I have experienced during my presidency, nor can I sufficiently describe the appreciation that I have for these. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with the volunteers who serve our Executive Board, Committees, Initiatives and other endeavors, the likes of whom I have never experienced previously. I am humbled and inspired by their tireless, creative, and passionate commitment to executing the mission of AWIS-SD. They are the answer to the question I am often asked, “How do you manage serving as President of such a large and active non-profit organization?” We all work together. I am profoundly grateful. For the next two-year term, I will serve on the Executive Board as Past-President. I am happy to continue my service to AWIS-SD in this role and have several projects in mind to take on during this new phase. I am very happy to say that Grace Nakayama will start her term and adventure as President of AWIS San Diego on January 1, 2014.
Thank you all for the support you have given me and AWIS San Diego!
Dorothy (Dody) Sears
AWIS Member Profile:
Meet Cathy A. Swindlehurst, Ph.D.,
Chief Executive Officer, NovoMedix
By Pat Rarus
Cathy Swindlehurst, Ph.D., likes to be in charge. Swindlehurst, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NovoMedix, a San Diego-based biotechnology company developing novel classes of small molecule therapeutics for hard-to-treat cancers, has served as a dynamic leader throughout her life, both professionally and personally. She was the leader of both of her daughters’ Girl Scout troops. In addition, she now serves as captain of two of the tennis teams on which she plays.
“I like the responsibility and the control it gives me over how I spend my time,” she explains with a grin. “Also, I don’t mind taking the blame when something goes wrong. It would be very difficult for me at this point to work for someone else.”
Fortunately, Swindlehurst will probably never have to work for someone else again. She, like so many San Diego-based scientists, began her career at the former Hybritech, where she served as a senior research scientist from 1990 to 1994.
After her time at Hybritech, Swindlehurst was a co-founder and Vice President of Research and Development at NovaDx, where she worked from 1994 to1997. Once Swindlehurst became a wife and young mother, she preferred the flexibility of consulting. She then formed Orion Bio Consulting and worked there from 1997 to 2006. Swindlehurst’s consulting work eventually led her to MagneSensors and PanCel.
Because she became increasingly focused on the business side of science, Swindlehurst assumed the pivotal role of Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for MagneSensors from 2002 to 2003. Swindlehurst led the corporate partnering, business development, and fund-raising efforts. She also demonstrated proof of concept for technology applications and wrote the technical and competitive portions of grant applications (a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant [SBIR] for magnetic immunoassays and DNA probes and a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] grant for biomagnetics, both of which were funded).
In her role as Vice President of Operations for PanCel (a diabetes cell therapy company), Swindlehurst performed a variety of functions. These included writing the company's business plan (used to raise $4 million in Series A funding) and preparing for a pre-Investigational New Drug (IND) application meeting with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For the latter, she designed pre-clinical animal studies, identified and selected good laboratory practice (GLP) contract research organizations (CROs) to perform pre-clinical animal studies, and prepared the necessary documentation and data to support the pre-IND filing. Cathy also founded NovoMedix, where again, her combined expertise in business and biotech propelled her to the CEO position.
Scientific women who wish to emulate Swindlehurst’s executive success, need to acquire business skills and knowledge either by earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or through UCSD Extension classes and extensive networking, she advises. “It may be surprising,” Swindelhurst observes, “but even in 2013, I still see women who are afraid to assert themselves and to achieve their full potential. If you want to transition from the bench to the boardroom, you certainly can. Membership in AWIS is a good way to hone your business skills and to develop your network.”
Happy Hour Report
By Lydiane Funkelstein
AWIS members and non-members had a great time during the AWIS Happy Hour at the H Bar of the Hyatt House in Sorrento Mesa, on September 18, 2013. This event was the perfect occasion to enjoy a glass of wine with hearty appetizers at the end of the day outside on the patio. Those who came to the event easily initiated conversations and chatted with each other in a relaxing atmosphere. Networking was on the menu, as well. Several attendees met new, friendly, and interesting people. For example, Lori Yang, CEO of Glycosensors and Diagnostics LLC, announced a job opening for a scientist at her company. Several scientists who had come with their resumes and business cards had the opportunity to talk to Yang about their interest in the available position. There were also other announcements concerning research funding and opportunities in graphic design.
Professional Development Award Winner
By DeeAnn Visk
Caroline McKeown, Ph.D., works as a Staff Scientist for neuroscience researcher Holly Cline at The Scripps Research Institute. She was awarded a Professional Development Award by AWIS National, which she used for travel to the Keystone Symposium on Neurogenesis in February 2013. At the Symposium, McKeown presented her research on identifying molecular mechanisms involved in recovery from brain injury. This award is unique in that, along with the typical funds for registration, travel, and lodging, it allows for childcare expenses. By providing an additional allowance for childcare, the AWIS Professional Development Award assists with family obligations, so that women are free to attend conferences, take classes, or participate in other professional development opportunities. AWIS-SD sat down with McKeown recently to find out more.
Tell me about yourself—something about your background, where you did your undergraduate studies, where you went to grad school…
I did my undergraduate studies at Purdue, where I got my first job in a biology lab. Previously, I had not really given much thought to what went on inside all those buildings on campus. I was surprised to discover all the research that was conducted inside them. I then moved back to my hometown of Chicago and worked as a research technician. My mentor, a strong female professor, encouraged me to apply to graduate school. I got my Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Utah. Nearly all of my mentors have been female, so I have witnessed many different examples of how women scientists handle the ever-elusive work-life balance.
Photo (left): Caroline McKeown presenting at the Keystone Symposium in Neurogenesis
What is your area of expertise in science?
Photo: GFP-expressing cells in the developing tadpole brain imaged in vivo on a spinning disk confocal microscope
I am a cell biologist with an extensive background in imaging technologies – I just love to look at cells under the microscope. I am currently studying neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons, in response to injury in the developing tadpole brain.
Tell me about your career; you had mentioned something about transitioning to a new area of science?
In graduate school I studied muscle development in C. elegans and my first post-doc research was on mouse cardiac muscle. Four years ago, I chose to change my career trajectory and do a second post-doc in neuroscience in the Cline lab, with the goal of learning new skills and the potential of developing the project into a long-term position. Fortunately, my mentor is very good at putting together teams of people with diverse backgrounds to tackle complex questions. After a year in the lab, I was promoted to the position of Staff Scientist. I am now growing a small research group under the umbrella of my mentor’s laboratory, advancing the findings of the lab in a collaborative and mutually beneficial association.
You won a Professional Development Award from the national branch of AWIS. How did you find out about the opportunity?
I read about the award in the National AWIS newsletter. After I had applied, my mentor informed me that only one or two awards were given each year. I don’t think I would have applied had I known the odds beforehand.
Do you have any advice for a member of AWIS-SD applying for this award?
Don’t be afraid to tell your whole story. A pitfall is only a pitfall if you don’t learn from it. Otherwise, it is an opportunity. I took four months off for the birth of my second child and I needed this award to help kick-start my career after returning to work, and that’s what I wrote in my application. You can reach me via
if you want more advice.
Why did you first get involved in AWIS-SD?
During my first post-doc, I wanted to learn what career options were available, so I went to the AWIS-SD Open House. It was so empowering to see all these strong women in science. Janet White told me that, if I was considering a job in industry, I should work on the AWIS Corporate Sponsorship Committee so I could make some industry contacts. I ended up fundraising for AWIS for several years, until the birth of my second child.
If you could change one thing about AWIS, what would it be?
I would like to see more recurring casual events. For example, happy hours or a walking group that you could go to without pre-registering. I would also love to be part of an AWIS 5K run—that would be a great fundraiser!
Photo: Caroline McKeown in front of her building at the Scripps Research Institute
What do you do when you are not working?
I love to garden and cook. I also run. I have two children and three hens in the backyard, so life in general keeps me pretty busy.
Presentation Skills for Powerful Women:
A Report on the AWIS-SD October Strategy Session
By DeeAnn Visk and Madhuvanthi Ramaiah
Catherine Mowbray-Lorenz was the speaker at our October strategy session on presentation skills. What better way to teach than by setting an example through delivering a great talk? Mowbray-Lorenz owns her own consulting firm, CML International, specializing in coaching speakers from beginners to experts.
One assignment for Mowbray-Lorenz was to tutor a gentleman aiming for a promotion who was lacking communication skills, which affected his confidence level. Mowbray-Lorenz helped him to improve his speaking skills, which inadvertently also improved his success on the dating front. Confidence is a defining factor of good public speaking. Even when you’re not sure of yourself, whether professional or informally, talk confidently anyway. The moral of the story: fake it ‘til you make it.
In researching her talk, Mowbry-Lorenz discovered that historically women did not speak in public. One exception was Queen Elizabeth I in 1588. When addressing troops at the Port of London before they faced the Spanish armada, she famously said:
“I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”
Her defiant words at a time when women were disregarded and silenced to a degree virtually unimaginable in our current times can serve as inspiration to all of us.
A good speaker is audible, well-prepared, organized, confident, engaging, humorous, and varies her tone of voice, avoiding monotone. Working on presentation skills comes with perks. Good speaking skills allow clarification of thinking and displays leadership skills. Excellent orators not only inspire their audiences, but also gain respect, impact their fields, improve their personal and company profile, and earn more money.
What are pitfalls to avoid and concepts to remember in refining your speaking skills? Here are a few suggestions (of the many made by Mowbray-Lorenz). Avoid a high, child-like voice and raising your intonation at the end of every phrase. Heavy accents can be distracting and make comprehension difficult for the audience. Moderating accents requires a lot of practice, but will greatly improve your presentation.
While preparing for a talk, determine the composition of your audience. Then you can tailor your talk to suit them. Knowing your audience better assists you in preparing for a more interactive talk, during which you can get input from the audience.
Many of us experience nervousness before a speech. To get a handle on those butterflies in your stomach, Mowbry-Lorenz recommends preparation – both of the content of your speech and of relaxation techniques to calm yourself. Try to use the nervous energy from your fear to energize yourself for the task at hand.
Thanks to the host of our Strategy Session, Jones Day, an international business law firm, for providing the venue and beverages.
AWIS Back to Work Initiative – Scientists Needed
The AWIS Back To Work Group is looking for people who would be willing to have a scientist from our AWIS Back to Work Group shadow them for a couple of hours or longer during the workday. Particular areas of interest include: Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, Gene Sequencing, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Inside Sales, Program Management, and Patent Law. If you would be interested, please contact the Back to Work Group at:
Science News Ticker
University of San Diego professor of electrical engineering, Susan Lord, was awarded the Nikola-Tesla Chain in Russia. Given for outstanding achievements in education and pedagogy, the award comes after the publication of her book, The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering. ••• UCSD undergraduate engineering students created a working rocket engine using a 3D printer. Ultimately, the students hope that making these inexpensive engines will decrease the cost of sending up small satellites. ••• San Diego-based pharmaceutical company Zogenix recently won FDA approval for its opioid painkiller Zohydro ER, a timed-release hydrocodone formulation. A panel had previously recommended against the approval due to drug abuse concerns. However, less than a year later, the FDA changed its mind and approved the drug due to the need for more pain control options. ••• Genentech, a unit of the large pharmaceutical company Roche, will spend $132 million to expand its Oceanside biotech drug manufacturing plant, which produces biologics— biotech drugs produced by genetically engineered cells. The expansion will add more than 50 technical, science and engineering jobs by the end of 2016. ••• San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on antibiotics, has been purchased by Massachusetts-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Cubist did not state officially what would happen to Trius’ San Diego workforce of approximately 100 people, though it hinted that at least some would be retained as Cubist employees. ••• The Scripps Translational Science Institute received a five-year, $29 million research grant from the NIH. The grant will pay for the group to study and research individualized medicine. The Institute, which is a collaboration between Scripps Health, The Scripps Research Institute, and the San Diego Supercomputer center, will study genomics, wireless technology, and bioinformatics to learn how they can be applied to individualized medicine. ••• Phil S. Baran, an organic chemist and professor at The Scripps Research Institute, received one of 24 MacArthur Foundation genius grants for 2013. Baran is the only researcher from San Diego to receive such an honor. Baran’s work includes ways to make drugs more potent and effective and has produced a line of chemicals that simplify difficult or dangerous reactions. As part of the grant, Baran will receive $625,000 over five years; Baran plans to use this money to perform research funding agencies like the NIH would not pay for. ••• Businessman T. Denny Sanford has gifted $100 million to the creation of the Stanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego. The center will work to accelerate development of human stem cell derived drugs and cell therapies, as well as to test these drugs in clinical trials and patient therapies.
Mid Career Coffee Club
Thursday, November 21st, 2013, 7:45am to 9:00am
Inside the food court at the northwest corner of Scranton Rd. and Mira Mesa Blvd.
Informal peer networking forum for AWIS-SD members in leadership and/or management positions to openly discuss issues faced on a daily basis.
Strategy Session: Enhance Your Team Building: Effective Collaborations and Project Teams
Monday, December 2nd, 2013, 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Jones Day, 12265 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130; 3rd Floor
Workshop 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Additional details TBD.
Light refreshments will be served. Pre-registration is essential for this members only event. Remember to bring your business cards!
This is an AWIS San Diego Members Only Event.
Mid Career Coffee Club
Thursday, December 19th, 2013, 7:45am - 9:00am
Inside the food court at the northwest corner of Scranton Rd. and Mira Mesa Blvd.
Informal peer networking forum for AWIS-SD members in leadership and/or management positions to openly discuss issues faced on a daily basis.
Local Events of Interest
Science Writing I at UCSD Extension
January 6 – March 17, 2014
This course will benefit both those seeking to make a career transition to science writing as well as to those with no intention of leaving the bench but who wish to be more effective writers. For those exploring alternative careers, this course is an introduction to science journalism with a focus on writing techniques and strategies to engage the general reader. Also covered are opportunities for science writing, constraints that shape science coverage, ethical issues governing science reporting, and the cultural place of science in society. For scientists wishing to hone communication skills, lay-level explanations of science are often the key to effectively explaining the broader implications and applications of scientific discoveries to key audiences such as colleagues, collaborators in other disciplines, funding agency and foundation officers, donors, institution leaders, corporate partners, students, legislators, your family and friends, journalists, and the public. Learn the tools and techniques to reach all these audiences effectively. The course is taught by Lynne Friedmann, AWIS Fellow, who brings a wealth of experience from her successful career as a freelance science writer and science communications consultant. Visit http://bit.ly/Vr8mld to enroll. You can also contact Lynne at
with questions about the course.
UC San Diego Galaxy Garden
Saturday, December 7
Looking for an out-of-this-world experience? Come to UCSD on Saturday December 7 for a stellar workshop about the Galaxy Garden - a scale model of the Milky Way Galaxy created with living plants that helps us envision the vastness of our galaxy and explore our place in it. Visit http://imagination.ucsd.edu/galaxygarden for more info.
A Quiet Revolution: Drug Discovery and Clinical Trials in the 21st Century
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
Monday, November 25, 5pm – 8pm
2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive
National leaders in the movement to re-invent drug discovery, development, and clinical trials share their vision, passion, and activities in this effort.
One of the major challenges of the pharmaceutical industry is to improve R&D productivity. Three San Diego physician-scientists engaged in national leadership roles will share their vision, passion, and activities in transforming drug discovery and development. Systems biology-oriented computational approaches to drug discovery are replacing older paradigms based on the traditional, uni-dimensional approach. Phenotypic discovery tools that link many phenotypes to one gene may improve R&D metrics and return on investment.
Dr. Marcos Milla will discuss current approaches to phenotypic drug discovery and the application of omics technologies to disease profiling and monitoring of drug action. Dr. Andreas Koester, VP of Clinical Trial Innovation at Janssen, will present visions of a more efficient clinical trial process, including novel technologies and processes, and industry collaborative initiatives including TransCelerate BioPharma, Inc. Dr. Steven Steinhubl, Director of Digital Medicine at Scripps Translational Research Institute, will discuss mobile health technologies as a tool that may be used to “creatively disrupt” the current clinical trial paradigm.
Who Should Attend. Individuals in the life science industry in pre-clinical, clinical, and related roles including executive management.
Student and post-doc registration (through November 17): $25
Online pre-registration (through November 17): $30
Late online pre-registration (November 18-24): $35
Onsite registration (November 25): $45
SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AVAILBLE. Contact
Marcy Richardson recently published two papers. Richardson was the first author on "Epigenetic regulation of the RHOX homeobox gene cluster and its association with human male infertility" published in Human Molecular Genetics in August, 2013 (PMID:23943794). She is also the second author on "Targeted DNA demethylation and activation of endogenous genes using programmable TALE-TET1 fusion proteins" published in Nature Biotechnology in October, 2013 (PMID:24108092). In addition, Richardson returned to work this month after welcoming the first addition to her family in April: Austin Eric Richardson!
Dana Buckman recently founded Flow Paradigm, a flow cytometry CRO in Sorrento Valley. Buckman is now working to obtain a woman-owned business certification in order to obtain quality government contracts to expand her new company.
Janet White was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in October.
Rachel Soloff, Ph.D, was promoted to the Director of the Research Division at Kyowa Hakko Kirin California, Inc.
Navneeta Pathak got married in the Bay Area on July 27, 2013 and traveled all over Italy for her honeymoon. Pathak is finishing her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences – Breast Cancer Metastasis at UC San Diego and then will move to Los Angeles, where her husband currently lives.
Radhika Gobal, Ph.D, co-authored a paper that has been accepted by the Journal of Virology. The paper, "Cytoplasmic granule formation and translational inhibition of nodaviral RNAs in the absence of the dsRNA binding protein B2," will run in a future journal issue.
Leslie Crews was awarded a $75,000 grant, made possible by the Blasker-Rose-Miah Fund of The San Diego Foundation. She will be carrying out research to develop a novel diagnostic test that will aid patients with leukemia and other cancer stem cell-driven malignancies. This work will be undertaken in the lab of Dr. Catriona Jamieson at UCSD Moores Cancer Center and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.
About the Authors
Madhuvanthi Ramaiah has a Ph.D. She intends to pursue a research career and her areas of expertise include molecular biology, RNA biology and reproductive biology. She lives in La Jolla with her husband and enjoys meeting people.
Pat Rarus, principal of Marcom Consulting Group, has more than 20 years of marketing communications experience. Her expertise is copywriting, ghostwriting and technical writing for corporations, marketing agencies, PR firms, and web development companies. Pat holds a Master of Science degree in Mass Communications and a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in journalism from San Diego State University. She also holds a certificate in medical marketing from UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Business.
DeeAnn Visk, Ph.D., is developing her career as a consultant, freelance science writing, editor, and blogger. She loves working at the bench in molecular biology, genetics, microscopy, and immunohistochemistry. She lives in the San Diego, CA area with her husband, two kids, and two spoiled hens