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Vol. LX, No. 11
May 30, 2008
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NIAID Hosts Second Fellows Retreat

  The NIAID fellows committee meets with Dr. Kathryn Zoon (back row, c), Dr. Wendy Fibison (front, third from r) and Dr. Julie Akana (standing, far r).  
  The NIAID fellows committee meets with Dr. Kathryn Zoon (back row, c), Dr. Wendy Fibison (front, third from r) and Dr. Julie Akana (standing, far r).  

NIAID hosted its second annual fellows retreat recently, increasing participation from the previous year by three-fold. The retreat was coordinated by Dr. Wendy Fibison, associate director for the Office of Training and Diversity at NIAID.

This was NIAID’s first off-campus retreat, held at the National Press Club, a location whose purpose, according to a plaque on the wall, is the advancement of professional standards and skills and the promotion of free expression, mutual support and social fellowship. “It was a truly fitting location that directly parallels the goals of this initiative,” said Fibison. “Our hope is that the retreat encouraged our fellows to ask questions, share successes, create collaborations, and just as importantly, foster a sense of community.

“NIAID’s fellows retreats focus entirely on career development,” she continued. “Our labs provide our fellows with the tools—technical research skills, critical thinking and problem solving—and scientific mentoring necessary to conduct innovative and groundbreaking research. What we can offer them is an understanding of how to take those tools to the next step in their career path. We want to help them assess their career values and create a career vision with which to move forward.”

Dr. Kathryn Zoon, director of NIAID’s Division of Intramural Research, shares Fibison’s view. During opening remarks, she told the fellows, “Our success is defined by your success.” She urged fellows to participate actively in the day’s programs and to provide feedback for coming years.

The retreat agenda was based solely on input from NIAID’s fellows committee, whose members hail from campus and Twinbrook labs, as well as from Montana’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

Keynote speaker David Jensen, founder and managing director of CareerTrax, Inc., engaged participants in a discussion that included tips, tools and strategies for obtaining a position in science. The retreat also included a panel of former NIAID fellows—now in various careers ranging from scientific policy, consulting, academic clinical research, government and industry—who fielded questions about their career paths. There were also workshops on immigration and visa issues, resume and CV writing and interview and presentation skills.

Results from a program evaluation revealed fellows’ overwhelmingly positive response to the day and a commitment from nearly 40 of them to participate in planning for next year. NIH Icon

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