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Employee Testimonials

Are you exploring options for your next career move? Let NHLBI be at the top of your list! Read testimonials of our employees about their typical workday, recent interesting projects, and what brings them joy at NHLBI. Here is what they are saying.

Administrative positions

Scientific positions




Administrative positions

 

Matt Norris

Matt Norris

Administrative Technician

What is your professional field?
I work in the administrative field. I am an Administrative Technician for the Extramural Administrative Management Branch, providing administrative support to customers to facilitate both group and individual needs.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
Prior to NIH, I worked in the restaurant industry. I had been pursuing a career with the federal government, specifically with the NIH, since my sophomore year of college. It is appealing to be able to contribute in building a healthier America without actually being a doctor. 

What is your typical workday?
My typical workday consists of various administrative tasks. My main tasks include reviewing travel authorizations and vouchers to ensure that all claims are within federal regulations, making purchases with my government purchase card, and accounting for government property. I also have a wide range of tasks such as initiating award nominations, processing telephone service requests, providing blackberry assistance, and providing general administrative support for my customers. 

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
I recently assisted with formulating budget projections for one of our program areas. This project allowed me to give my insight and to help facilitate the financial needs of upcoming programs and travels.  Another interesting project was to assist the property team with determining which printers have duplexing capability (the ability to print on both sides of paper) in order to promote a greener workplace. What I enjoy most about many of my projects is that I am able to utilize my creativity and critical thinking skills to come up with the best possible solution.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
What I like the most about my job is the atmosphere. The people are wonderful to work with and what I do gives me a feeling that I am a part of something bigger than myself.  NIH and NHLBI are incredibly employee oriented. It is wonderful to wake up every morning and actually want to come into work.

What is the career ladder for your job?
The career ladder for Administrative Technician goes up to the General Schedule (GS) grade GS-8. Future career opportunities include various administrative management positions (such as Administrative Officer or Program Manager) and then supervisory roles.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I enjoy playing tennis, running, football, playing ice hockey, playing guitar, and visiting friends and family.

 

Allison Cristman

Allison Cristman

Contracting Officer

What is your professional field?
I am a Contracting Officer, which means that I have the authority to legally bind the Government to contracts. Essentially, I serve as a business representative for research and development programs for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
My degree is in business – I received a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. I worked in both marketing and sales positions after graduating, but did not find that sales was a good fit for me. Actually, it was my father who suggested I may be interested in applying for contracting positions with the Government. He spent nearly his entire career as a Program Manager at the National Weather Service, where he worked alongside contracting staff nearly every day. Of course, he was right!  This job is a perfect fit for me, because it allows me to work in many different areas of business: legal, research, accounting, business writing, and interacting with customers. I am very thankful that I was able to find a position at NIH/NHLBI because I thoroughly enjoy the programs that I am able to support. I find it very rewarding to support the mission of NIH and NHLBI. I like that I feel good about my job, knowing that I am working to support scientific research to promote prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases, and the improvement of the health of all individuals.

What is your typical workday?
A typical workday usually consists of working with many different people from many different organizations and different educational backgrounds, which is something that I love and find challenging. In contracts, you work closely with a Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative, who oversees the technical aspects of the program. Due to the nature of the work we support at NIH, this typically means someone with an advanced degree, such as an MD, PhD, MPH, or MS.  We also work with the contractors, which are typically universities, hospitals, and other research organizations.
There is a great deal of organization in contracts, to administer large programs that often consist of several contracts and subcontracts with different organizations. So, I may be updating spreadsheets to track expenditures and approving invoices, answering emails to internal and external customers, researching the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the applicable agency regulations (HHS Acquisition Regulations and the NIH Manual Chapter), meeting with program and other contracts staff, reviewing contract deliverables, writing memoranda… the list goes on!

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
Recently I was part of a team that awarded 9 contracts totaling $87.2 M for the Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study-III, or REDS-III. The goal of REDS-III is to improve blood safety and availability in the U.S. and internationally through the conduct of epidemiologic, survey, and laboratory studies. The program consists of not only domestic research hubs, but also international sites in Brazil, China, and South Africa. It is a very collaborative program with a collegial group of investigators. It was a lot of hard work to negotiate and award the contracts, but it was well worth it.  I am now the Contracting Officer for this program. I had the opportunity to work on REDS-II, so I am very excited to be a part of the new and expanded REDS-III program.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
I love the diversity of my job. There is diversity both in what I do and who I work with. I described above the many different business functions required of this job on a daily basis. As far as diversity in who I work with, I mentioned that NIH is full of employees from many different educational and career backgrounds. There are doctors, clinicians, biostatisticians, nurses, lab technicians, budget officers, review officials, and business representatives. Also, there are people working here from all over the world. It is a great working environment. I love that I never get bored! I am constantly challenged to learn new things. You never learn everything there is to know about contracts – that is something I hear often from even the most seasoned contracts staff in my office. There is always a new situation that arises, which requires one to adapt or resolve the issue.

Another very important aspect that I really like about my job is the fact that I feel I have found a career.  I can definitely see myself working at NIH and NHLBI for my entire career. There are plenty of opportunities here for me to grow, advance, and be challenged over the course of my career.

What is the career ladder for your job?
I began as a Procurement Technician, learning the functions of the Office of Acquisitions. From there, I was promoted to a Contract Specialist (CS). A CS supports a Contracting Officer with the administration of the contracts for various programs. I received my warrant in 2010 and am now a Contracting Officer managing a portfolio of contracts. There are advancement opportunities beyond Contracting Officer in our office, such as a Team Leader, which is a senior Contracting Officer who oversees a large number of scientific contract programs, provides leadership in resolving various challenges and policy issues, and mentors and trains junior staff.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I enjoy traveling, dining out, running, reading, and relaxing.

 

Tawana McKeither

Tawana McKeither

Grants Management Specialist

What is your professional field?
My professional fields are Grants Management and Financial Management.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
Prior to NIH, I worked for the United States Treasury Department in the Community Development Financial Institution Office where I began my Federal Service. I knew early on that I wanted to have a long career in Grants and NIH was and remains the Gold Standard in Grants Management. I had to be part of an environment that is known for their excellence in Grants Management. NHLBI was the Institute that wanted me to be part of their dynamic team and is also known for being a training Institute for Grant Specialists. I knew I found my professional home.

What is your typical workday?
Grants, Grants, Grants… On a daily basis, I am advising grantees on Grants policy to assist them in maintaining successful research, analyzing applications and progress reports to ensure progress is satisfactory and costs are allowable while always ensuring a high level of integrity is maintained. I meet with Program staff on a regular basis to answer questions, provide guidance at review meetings, and enhance our partnership. My workday is always changing to produce the most effective environment to get the job done on a superior level.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
Recently, I had the opportunity to be a mentor - which was great! This role allowed me to show the ropes of Grants Management and to share some of my techniques for mastering Grants.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
What I like best about my job is that I’m part of a community of people who truly want to cure the world of sickness. I love that I’m part of something GREAT and how it has a direct effect with elevating the world health consciousness. Working for NHLBI is worthwhile for me because we have a level of dedication to our mission that most places don’t. I’m lucky to be part of a team where you know that your work touches all walks of life. NHLBI encourages me to be my absolute best in a nurturing way.

What is the career ladder for your job?
My career ladder ranges from the General Schedule (GS) grade GS-7 to GS-13.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
Outside of work you will find me in a gym watching my daughter play basketball. I am a true fan and love watching her play and SCORE!!

 

Jim Mitchel

Jim Mitchel

Management Analyst

What is your professional field?
My fields are business and administrative management and management policy.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
I served in the United States Military – Army, for nine years prior to being employed with NIH. I had just exited from the Army and was looking for employment. A former colleague worked at NIH in the Human Resources Office and told me about the many opportunities at NIH and the benefits of working for the Federal Government.

What is your typical workday?
My typical day may involve developing an administrative policy, conducting studies to analyze program operations and policy compliance, and providing various administrative management services in the areas of financial management, procurement, space allocation, management analysis and others.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
Recently, I reviewed and analyzed risk assessments for the administrative programs. Risk management is a continuous process which is designed to proactively identify and mitigate risks to help promote the achievement of the organization's objectives, strategy, and mission.  Risk management involves identifying, assessing, monitoring, and reporting organizational risks, as well as communicating risks throughout an organization. I evaluated, made recommendations and established milestones for the program areas. 

Another interesting team project was the redesign of our administrative management intranet. With representatives from all our administrative offices and IT staff, we analyzed employees' feedback and recommendations regarding web content of the existing intranet, brainstormed on how to improve the content, focusing on reducing redundancy and improving navigation, and then developed and launched the new robust website.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
The best part is knowing that I had a small part in contributing to improving the health of the nation from the administrative side of the arena. This gives me a sense of accomplishment. Working at NIH gives me the insight into the latest health issues, such as new progress in medical research, information about clinical trials, excellent training and development opportunities, in addition to the exceptional benefits packages and flexible work schedules that NIH offers.

What is the career ladder for your job?
The next career step can be a Team Lead or Supervisory Management Analyst (such as Branch Chief or Office Director).

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
Beyond work, I enjoy spending time with my family (wife and two sons), traveling, and connecting with my community.

 

Mary E. Landi O'Leary Carder

Mary Landi O'Leary Carder

Procurement Analyst/Contracting Officer

What is your professional field?
I am in the 1102 job series which is the Contract/Acquisition series.  I am currently a Contracting Officer with a Procurement Analysis emphasis.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
I originally started my contracting career at the Department of Defense which I feel gave me a great foundation in the contracting field. I moved to NIH because the overall mission of public health and actually feeling like what you are doing is helping individuals was more appealing.

What is your typical workday?
My position is a Procurement Analyst in the Office of Acquisitions at NHLBI.  My role is to serve as a subject matter expert in the analysis and evaluation of all acquisitions within the responsibility of research and development contracts for the office. I review, evaluate and provide specific guidance on any contracting issue that may arise. With that in mind it seems no day is typical! New presidential mandates are signed daily, or new Federal Register Rules are issued. These mandates or rules must be reviewed to see what if any change in current policy needs to be made in order for the office to comply with the mandate or rule. If they are ambiguous, then research must be done in order to make a logical decision on how to implement the change. Typically, I will review any periodicals issued (Government Executive, Federal Register Notices) that day to see if changes may have an impact.  My door is always open to co-workers for discussions about contracting strategies that they may want to get a second perspective on.  I work with our policy office to implement Standard Operating Procedures and updating the NHLBI Acquisition Policy manual.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
I would call this project more challenging, which was the reinterpretation of appropriation law and how it affects contracts and funding within HHS. This interpretation was and is a major shift in the way contracts and grants can be funded at NIH.  With this shift, different acquisition strategies needed to be formed and developed in order for us to help programs achieve the project goals.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
The individuals I work with. I work with a group of professionals that take pride in the work product they put forth and the willingness to step in and help during difficult times, such as the recent threat of a government shutdown. There is a feeling of being appreciated for what we do, not only by your supervisors but by the program staff as well. It may not always be easy, but everyone does realize we are working towards the same goal which is public health.

What is the career ladder for your job?
The career ladder for the 1102 job series is from the General Schedule (GS) grade GS-5 to GS-13.  From there, competitive appointments for the GS-14 and GS-15 supervisory level are available.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
Beyond work I am a certified fitness instructor. I teach progressive resistant weight training. I also enjoy competing in 5 and 10k road runs and at least one Sprint distance triathlon a year.

Scientific positions

 

Carol J. Blaisdell, M.D.

Carol Blaisdell

Medical Officer

What is your professional field?
I am a Medical Officer and Program Director of Lung Development and Pediatric Lung Diseases.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
Prior to joining the NHLBI, I worked at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. As a pediatric pulmonologist, I was attracted by the opportunity to help develop programs and encourage new science to improve the health of children with lung disease.

What is your typical workday?
Reading the literature and grant summaries to identify gaps in our current knowledge of lung development and pediatric lung diseases, developing workshop ideas and initiatives, contacting investigators for input on program development, responding to investigator questions regarding grants proposal ideas, grants that have been submitted and reviewed, and what outcomes from study section mean; meeting with other program staff in the division of lung diseases and at NHLBI and other institutes/centers to develop programs utilizing multiple types of expertise and experience; reviewing investigator progress and requesting information for clarification.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
We developed 2 new initiatives that will advance our understanding of lung diseases of children: 1) the prematurity and respiratory outcomes program (PROP) which involves 5 clinical centers with teams of neonatologists and pediatric pulmonologists to test new molecular biomarkers of post-NICU lung disease risk; and 2) Functional Modeling of the Pediatric Upper Airway, which has awarded 5 centers to study and model the dynamic changes of the pediatric upper airway during the breathing cycle. Both programs challenged the scientific community to develop new multidisciplinary teams to address gaps in our understanding of phenotypes of clinical disease in children with premature lung disease or upper airway disorders.  Both initiatives started with gathering expert scientists to participate in a workshop to discuss some of the scientific knowledge gaps and identifying priority areas for research.

In basic research I have helped develop our science in lung stem/progenitor cell biology and lung regeneration, monitoring progress of investigator initiated projects as well as developing a new initiative the “Lung repair and regeneration Consortium”.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
I am developing new programs that will inform better care of children. I enjoy the scientific and intellectual challenge of knowing what is currently being studied, published, and what new areas need development.

What is the career ladder for your job?
The career path goes from Program Officer to Branch Chief, then Deputy Division Director or Division Director. 

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I enjoy gardening, sewing, bike riding, and travel.

 

Mary M. Hand, MSPH, RN

Mary Hand

Public Health Advisor

What is your professional field?
I am a Registered Nurse (RN) with a Master of Science in Public Health. As part of my masters’ program, I completed an adult-geriatric nurse practitioner track. Subsequently, I completed doctoral level coursework in the area of educational psychology with an emphasis on measurement and evaluation, and a minor in epidemiology.

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a Registered Nurse at the University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics for a year, rotating throughout the adult medical surgical areas. Later I moved to work at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Minneapolis in the surgical intensive care unit, before returning to graduate school full time for two years. After graduate school, I worked in several positions that stimulated my interest in cardiovascular disease prevention, treatment and control, including working as a nurse practitioner on several NHLBI-funded multi-center clinical trials, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (involved risk factor-lowering interventions with middle-age men who were at high risk for a heart attack), and the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP), that demonstrated the importance of treating elevated systolic blood pressure in the elderly. 

While still in Minnesota, I also served as the coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health’s High Blood Pressure Control Program, in which I worked with county health departments throughout the state of Minnesota to implement standardized blood pressure measurement, screening, and management protocols and programs. While doing this work, I became aware of the NHLBI’s national guidelines on hypertension detection, evaluation, and treatment. One day I received a phone call from a consulting firm that had won a contract to support the NHLBI Office that housed the national education programs in cardiovascular disease (notably high blood pressure and cholesterol), recruiting me to interview for the position in their firm of supporting the work of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. I moved to Bethesda to take the job. After several years working for this firm, I joined the NHLBI to start a new national education program, the National Heart Attack Alert Program. The prospect of working at the NHLBI, with my interest and work in cardiovascular disease was a compelling offer and I served as the program coordinator for the National Heart Attack Alert Program for 14 years, from 1991 to 2005.  In 2005 I moved to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Office of Extramural Research for 5 years as a Health Scientist Administrator, working on grants policy, scientific peer review, and grants-related staff training. I returned to the NHLBI's Division for the Application of Research Discoveries to start another new program, the National Program to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk.

What is your typical workday?
My typical workday involves activities that relate to starting a new national education program to implement new evidence-based guidelines in the areas of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and overweight and obesity. This program is a new direction for the NHLBI from past efforts and programs. I have prepared a contract solicitation that involved preparing a statement of work, served as chair of a technical review panel convened to review the proposals submitted in response to the contract solicitation, and prepared summary technical comments to those who applied for the contract (in collaboration with the NHLBI Contracts Office.)

I have worked with the leadership in the Division for the Application of Research Discoveries, NHLBI, to develop a blueprint for the new National Program to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk, including a Coordinating Committee of 30 health care professional, voluntary, and federal organizations. Further, I am working with the organizations to finalize appointments of their representatives to serve on the Coordinating Committee that will have an important role in implementing the forthcoming evidence-based guidelines on high blood pressure, cholesterol, and overweight and obesity.  And I am planning the “nuts and bolts” for the first meeting of the National Program to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Coordinating Committee scheduled for this fall.

When the new guidelines are published, I will work with the selected contractor on getting the guidelines information widely disseminated through updating the existing NHLBI website, developing  Government Printing Office versions of the guidelines for web posting and download, planning selected webinars with the Coordinating Committee organizations to inform key physicians, nurses, dietitians, and other health professional groups of the updated risk factor information, and developing educational materials and tools for these groups. Also, I participate in agenda planning for smaller work groups that support the guidelines implementation work of my office, including planning agendas for external work group conference calls and participating in the calls. Finally, I am involved in several internal meetings in my office every week and spend a fair amount of time preparing and responding to e-mails related to the above work.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
I was invited to attend a workshop sponsored by the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, NHLBI. The workshop brought in experts in blood pressure measurement from around the nation to examine the results of a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, in collaboration with NHLBI, comparing blood pressure measurements obtained with a standard mercury sphygmomanometer with those from an automatic oscillometric device.  The meeting’s purpose was to discuss the possible benefits and drawbacks of replacing the traditional mercury devices with the easier-to-use non-mercury oscillometric devices for use in the longstanding National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study. The NHANES is the nationally representative survey incorporating questionnaire, lab, and medical exam and is the platform from which most estimates of prevalence of key risk factors and diseases of major public health concern in the United States, in particular, blood pressure and hypertension, are obtained. Concern for the dangers of mercury contamination of the environment but also recognition of the wide spread popularity of automatic oscillometric blood pressure measurement devices present a scientific and economic challenge, as to whether the method of obtaining national estimates should change from the standard mercury sphygmomanometer to the automatic oscillometric type.

This was of keen interest because of my past work developing a standardized blood pressure measurement program in Minnesota (using the mercury device), use of the mercury device in the clinical trials on which I had worked; and my familiarly with the past NHANES publications reporting on the status of high blood pressure awareness, treatment, and control in the United States.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
As a nurse who used to work directly with sick patients at the bedside, I like the national perspective that comes with working at the NHLBI and the NIH. While I am far removed from the bedside and do not get to see the impact of our heart disease prevention and control work in individual patients, the potential for impact is greater at this level because of the health care policies and research translation programs and products that we make available for health care providers, patients, and the public. I have had through my past work coordinating the National Heart Attack Alert Program, and I continue to have, the privilege of working with national and international experts who are dedicated to the NHLBI mission and who look to NHLBI for research that is free of bias and can be translated into recommendations for practice that are evidence based.

What is the career ladder for your job?
With the aging of the population, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of adults. There are many roles in public health and much work to be done to improve the prevention, treatment, and control of the major cardiovascular risk factors, and to review research that may define new risks to our heart health.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I enjoy reading, walking, visiting family and friends, and singing in my church choir. As I have worked over the years, I have come to realize the importance of balance. Work is important and there is potential to make lasting contributions to the public’s health through the work at NHLBI. However, I recognize that others will carry the work on if I do it well and reach out to younger colleagues, who will find cardiovascular disease work as important and rewarding as I have.

 

Jovonni R. Spinner, MPH, CHES

Jovonni Spinner

Public Health Analyst

What is your professional field?
My background is in Public Health. Currently, I am a Public Health Analyst in the Division for the Application of Research Discoveries.

Prior to NIH, where did you work?
I have worked in the healthcare and public health field for the past ten years. Immediately prior to coming to NIH, I worked at the National Vaccine Program Office as a Health Policy Fellow. In this position, I focused on vaccine supply and financing issues.

What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
After working in policy for two years, I realized that I wanted to move back into a position where I could work with communities to make a change and to work on issues that are closer to my personal interests; mainly obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In graduate school, my research interests were obesity and low income women and in previous jobs I mostly worked on program implementation and evaluation. I realized that I wanted a career that could morph these two passions where I could ultimately help underserved communities. So, as my fellowship was coming to an end, I searched for companies where I could use my public health skills and also work with communities on program development, implementation and evaluation.

After much research and talking with colleagues, it became apparent that NIH would be the ideal fit for me, personally and professionally. After many conversations several themes emerged about NIH that were attractive to me including the excellent work life balance (telework and flexible scheduling), growth potential, and of course all of the other benefits for working for the federal government.  

What is your typical workday?
Even though my core duties are centered around data analysis and evaluation, I love the fact that my job has a lot of variety allowing me to work on different types of projects. A typical day will usually include managing my projects through some variation of planning, leading or participating in meetings, researching articles, reviewing documents, and performing data analysis.  

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
My biggest project right now is serving as the COTR to develop an evaluation plan for the We Can! and Community Health Worker (CHW) programs. The We Can! program focuses on ways to reduce childhood obesity by providing tools for parents, caregivers and communities to encourage children to eat healthy, increase physical activity and reduce screen time.  The CHW program aims to reduce cardiovascular health disparities in minority communities by using trained CHW’s to educate community members on the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and practical ways to fight heart disease. Both programs work closely with community partners to achieve their goals. Even though these are both national projects and have an expansive reach, they really touch home and aim to make changes at the individual and community levels. Since coming to NHLBI, I have also worked on projects related to Healthy People 2010, Healthy People 2020, asthma, and sickle cell disease.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
I enjoy working as a part of a team with other people that share the same passion of helping others and giving their all to make a difference. We are able to work together in an atmosphere where all voices are heard. We collaborate and work together towards a common goal, and most importantly the leadership is actively engaged and receptive to new ideas and projects. Nothing beats the personal satisfaction of knowing that the work I am doing is well received and will affect someone’s life in a positive way. For example, a community health worker called to ask questions about the evaluation portion of her project. At the end of the conversation she told me that she really appreciated my willingness to take the time to help her and that I explained the information in a way that was easy to understand. Affirmations like that make my job worthwhile!

There are also many opportunities to grow and learn professionally at NIH. As an employee, you have access to world renowned experts who routinely give lectures and presentations on campus. There are opportunities to collaborate with people from other Divisions within the federal government on various projects. Also, there are plenty of meetings and conferences related to your field which you can attend to stay abreast of emerging trends and topics.
Some of the perks to working on campus at NIH are the onsite credit union, a store to buy stamps and other odds and ends, and a place to ship packages (e.g. Fedex and UPS) and not to mention the Farmer’s market and other vendors that sell unique crafts and other gifts. Given that people spend most of their day away from home, these amenities make it easier to take care of routine errands.

What is the career ladder for your job?
With a background in public health, the career options are limitless. You can work in government, non-profit, for-profit or academia. The skills and knowledge gained can be easily transferred to different public health programs, applied at a managerial/supervisory level or independent consulting.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
Beyond work, I enjoy traveling wherever my passport will take me and baking all types of desserts. In particular, I like to bake cakes and pies. 

 

Scientific Planning Specialists:

Melissa Antman, Ph.D.

Stephanie Y. Burrows, Ph.D.

Melissa Antman, Ph.D.

Scientific Planning Specialist

Melissa Antman

What is your professional field?
I have a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, and my previous work experience was in pharmaceutics and physical and analytical chemistry. Now my work is in planning, evaluation, and science policy analysis. 

Prior to NIH where did you work?  What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
I was a researcher at two different pharmaceutical companies before coming to the NHLBI.  Although I enjoyed this work, I wanted to branch out into other areas. Since I had always been interested in policy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellows program piqued my interest. I decided to apply, and I was placed in the Office of Science and Technology at the NHLBI.  I liked my fellowship year so much that I have stayed on as a permanent employee. 

What is your typical workday?
My work varies from day to day depending on the needs of the Institute, but on any given day I could be working on analyses, reports, or writing projects. I also attend meetings on trans-NIH or NHLBI programs.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
Recently, I conducted analyses that have informed policies on the NHLBI R21 program and the NHLBI differential payline. My ongoing projects include participating on the NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Coordinating Committee and contributing to the NIH disease reporting system.

What is the career ladder for your job?
My office has opportunities for promotion. Another great aspect of my job is that it enables me to learn how the NHLBI and the NIH work. Through my projects and interactions with coworkers, I can explore different career niches.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
I love that I remain connected to science even though I am no longer a researcher. It’s exciting to work on new and different projects every day. I am also fortunate to work with smart and friendly people.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I enjoy running, sculling, hiking, and Pilates when I am not spending time with my family and friends and playing with my baby daughter.

 

Stephanie Y. Burrows, Ph.D.

Scientific Planning Specialist

What is your professional field?
I have a Ph.D. in biology and currently work in the area of scientific policy and planning at the NHLBI.

Prior to NIH where did you work?  What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
After finishing graduate school, I was accepted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science policy fellowship program. The fellowship enables scientists and engineers to learn about federal policy by working in the legislative or executive branch. I chose to complete my fellowship at the NIH because I was interested in learning how policies that affect research are developed and evaluated. I also felt that working at the NIH would allow me to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in biological research.

What is your typical workday?
I work on many different types of projects throughout the year. Typically, I do a lot of writing about NHLBI research initiatives and advances. The office where I work develops research-related policies and evaluates research programs, so I gather and analyze information relevant to those tasks.  Currently, I also serve as the NHLBI point of contact for congressional inquiries. Depending on the day, I may spend a good deal of time working with NHLBI staff to coordinate responses to Congress.

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
My office recently completed the NHLBI’s contribution to the NIH biennial report on women’s health issues. I worked on the section on heart disease.  I enjoyed writing about recent research advances that have the potential to improve cardiovascular disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in women.  In light of the fact that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. women, these advances are extremely important.

What is the career ladder for your job?
The ladder depends on your interests. I was very interested in learning about how the executive branch works with the Congress and was able to move into a congressional liaison role.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
My favorite thing about the NIH is the people!  Folks are smart, willing to work together to get things done, and committed to the mission of the organization. The reasonable work-life balance and interesting work projects also make the NIH a good place to work.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I have always loved to exercise. Recently, I began training in aikido, a Japanese martial art. It is challenging, but a lot of fun.

 

Cristina Rabadán-Diehl, PhD, MPH Cristina  Rabadan-Diehl

Supervisory Health Scientist Administrator - Deputy Director, Office of Global Health

What is your professional field?
I currently work in Global Health. My other scientific areas of expertise are diabetes complications and developmental origins of health and disease.

Prior to NIH, where did you work?
I have been at the NIH for 18 years. Prior to that, I was at the University of Miami, in Miami Florida.

What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
My family and I moved to the DC area in 1993. I knew that the NIH was an exciting place to work with many opportunities to learn and advance my career. In 1993 I joined the NICHD intramural program, and later, in 2002, I joined NHLBI as a program director in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences. I was always interested in working in cardiovascular research because my grandmother, who was very dear and special to me, died of complications of atherosclerotic disease.  

What is your typical workday?
My workday is everything but typical.  Every day brings something new and exciting. That is one of the things I like most about working in Global Health at the NHLBI. I interact with many people, at the NHLBI, NIH and elsewhere. I am constantly in email or phone communication with investigators and other stakeholders from the US and overseas, especially those associated with our NHLBI Centers of Excellence program. That requires that I make myself available at odd times of the day sometimes, due to the differences in time zones, but I don’t really mind it. Our office also interacts and works with the different divisions and offices at NHLBI, so every time I can, I join activities that allow me to increase my knowledge in the areas of cardiovascular, lung and blood diseases.
  
What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
I am the Director of the NHLBI Global Health Initiative that has established cardiovascular and pulmonary Centers of Excellence in developing countries. I have recently been involved in selecting research projects that can be done jointly across the Centers. Another recent project has been working with the members of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD). The GACD is composed of national health research institutions from several countries and it coordinates and supports research activities that address, on a global scale, the prevention and treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases. I am part of a GACD working group that has developed a funding opportunity announcement on Hypertension prevention and control.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?  
I am constantly learning and interacting with very interesting people. I like the fact that I can connect US investigators with investigators in other parts of the US or the world. I sometimes feel like an engineer, building bridges to promote knowledge exchange and friendships across the borders.  

I feel that I am making an important contribution to increase science knowledge and improve health in the US and around the globe. I also like interacting with my colleagues at the NHLBI. NHLBI has so many interesting, smart and knowledgeable people that I feel very privileged to know them. It is a great and stimulating environment to work in.

What is the career ladder for your job?
I am currently the Deputy Director of the NHLBI Office of Global Health. The experience, knowledge and skills I am acquiring here will position me well to move into jobs with greater responsibilities and leadership.  

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
I love watching movies, listening to music and cooking.


Hilary S. Leeds, J.D. Hilary Leeds

Program Analyst (Science and Technology)

What is your professional field?
I received an undergraduate degree in biochemistry, after which I went to law school and studied bioethics and health law. I have fellowship training in bioethics, as well, so I consider my profession to be a mix of law and bioethics. 

Prior to NIH, where did you work? What initially attracted you to the NIH/NHLBI?
My first job after I completed my bioethics training was as a Research Associate in Public Health Law. I had always been interested in working at the NIH because of its mission and the opportunities to be involved in cutting-edge issues in research and policy. I found my position through USAJobs, and I was lucky that it ended up being in the NHLBI’s Office of Science and Technology (OST), which is a wonderful place to work.

What is your typical workday?
A typical workday for me involves participating in a variety of projects, from leading the planning of our annual Public Interest Organization meeting, to translating science for the public and preparing the Institute’s components of Congressionally mandated reports. I often have the privilege of working with colleagues from the NHLBI or across the NIH. I attend meetings, lectures, and occasionally conferences that help inform my projects. 

What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
I feel lucky that I regularly work on a number of interesting projects. These include helping our various programs and networks with agreements to distribute data and materials, working with staff from across the NIH on implementing the Genome-Wide Association Studies Policy, and helping with a workshop on Institutional Review Board issues.

What do you like best about your job? What makes working at the NHLBI worthwhile for you?
I like that each day is different and that I find intellectual satisfaction from my projects. The people I get to work with are helpful and knowledgeable, and I am always learning from them and their experiences. 

What is the career ladder for your job?
The experience and training I have received as a part of the OST team have given me the tools to pursue a number of career options in the future.

What do you enjoy doing beyond work?
When I am not at work, I dance, play the piano, do paper crafts, participate in the occasional community service project, and spend time with friends exploring the activities and events Washington, DC and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Last Updated: December 2011