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WIB-Pittsburgh’s 2018 Leadership and Programing Meeting, November 28th, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Thursday, June 6, 2019

On Tuesday, November 28th, the WIB-Pittsburgh leadership committee met at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) for a debriefing of the past year events and accomplishments. It was the occasion to thank Stephanie Kladakis, who served as chapter chair in 2017 and did a wonderful job managing and leading the chapter. Thanks a lot Steph! She passed the torch to Julie Cramer who will be our chapter chair in 2018. The door was then opened to all members who wanted to participate in the programing for the events that will be organized in 2018. A crowd of about 30 motivated women comprised of old and new members participated in the discussion while enjoying some good wine and food. The discussion was led by our programing chair, Michelle Zorilla, and our programing vice-chair, Marissa Kuzirian, who introduced their ideas for our monthly events. The audience was very enthusiastic and brought exciting ideas that will address women professional development, mentoring, networking and much more. The theme of the year is: “Giving back while succeeding”. Everybody agreed on several events that will range from casual social pop-ups to career panels and professional development workshops, without forgetting our annual P.O.W.E.R event that will, as usual, take place in September. Stay alert for further information!

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WIB-Pittsburgh Annual Hat-O-Ween Celebration, October 23, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Thursday, June 6, 2019

WIB-Pittsburgh Celebrates a Year of Hard Work and Success

On October 23, 2017, WIB-Pittsburgh closed out a successful year with its annual Hat-O-Ween celebration. Scientists, start-up inventors, and all of the ligaments in between filled the East End Brewery as the autumn rain angled left outside. Inside, plates of hors d'oeuvre and miniature cakes filled a table against the back wall, and the bar glittered with glasses of wine.

With the capstone P.O.W.E.R event showcasing precision medicine, the mentorship program flourishing, and dedication to fostering STEM in the next generation of female scientists on their slate of achievements, WIB-Pittsburgh had earned a drink or two. The conversation came as easily as speakeasy liquor – which fine University of Pittsburgh scientist had transitioned successfully into industry, which talented Ph.D. candidate had completed her 50k race through loops of mud, which epidemiologist tinkered with the problems in a population to solve.

It was a fine time for hats and light-hearted games. Instead of the somber socialite spring hat shows, we lined our witches’ hats with pipettes, teased Halloween ribbon around our Stetsons in a twist of the typical. Trading career advice and jokes, we planned our futures. We tested our ideas against the wisdom of our peers. Sipping scotch, we milled the brewery looking for the next big biotech idea in the creative context of friendship. Then, fortified with intellectual solidarity, we straightened our hats and braved the downpour outside.

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WIB-Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh City Council declares September 26, 2017 “Women In Bio Day of P.O.W.E.R.”

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Thursday, June 6, 2019

In a ceremony on September 26, 2017, Councilwoman Darlene Harris commended WIB-Pittsburgh and the 2017 P.O.W.E.R. Awardee, Alethea Wieland, for promoting careers, leadership opportunities, and entrepreneurship for women in the Pittsburgh region.  The day was declared “Women In Bio Day of P.O.W.E.R.” in the city of Pittsburgh. Members of the WIB-Pittsburgh leadership team joined Alethea to accept the proclamation on behalf of the chapter. All members of Women’s Caucus of Pittsburgh City Council also spoke at the ceremony, praising WIB-Pittsburgh’s contributions.  In addition to the City of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor Tom Wolf also recognized the contributions of WIB-Pittsburgh with proclamations. WIB-Pittsburgh is proud to be recognized by the City and State for its role in supporting women and life sciences in the region and would like to thank everyone who has and continues to support the success of our chapter and women in Pittsburgh!

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WIB-Pittsburgh: Congratulations to our 2017 P.O.W.E.R. Award Recipient: Alethea Weiland

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Thursday, June 6, 2019

On September 26, the 2017 P.O.W.E.R. Award was presented to Alethea Wieland, Managing Director and President of the U.S. office and North American Operations of SCOPE International. Ms. Wieland embodies the spirit of P.O.W.E.R and WIB-Pittsburgh’s mission. Alethea has supported the evolution of life sciences in our region throughout her career. She previously held regulatory and clinical leadership positions in the Pittsburgh area, including the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP Foundation Inc.), Helomics (formerly Precision Therapeutics, Inc.) and ALung Technologies, Inc. In 2012, Ms. Wieland was instrumental in SCOPE International’s decision to base its North American operations in Pittsburgh. SCOPE is the first global, full-service contract research organization (CRO), an organization that provides support to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries in the form of research services outsourced on a contract basis, that has selected Pittsburgh to house offices.

Women In Bio-Pittsburgh is committed to promoting careers, leadership opportunities, and entrepreneurship for women in our region. As an active WIB member, Ms. Wieland supports this mission passionately. She inspires future generations of women leaders by generously sponsoring the WIB-Pittsburgh Mentors, Advisors, and Peers chapter (MAPs) which provides one-on-one mentoring for local university students and post-doctorates. For the past 1.5 years, Alethea has mentored a total of 10 emerging life sciences professionals and academics through the Women In Bio Pittsburgh Chapter MAPs program. Ms. Wieland encourages all women to exceed societal expectations and she continually advocates the advancement of women in our region. Through SCOPE International Academy, Alethea also offers a series of free workshops to the Pittsburgh community to help professionals navigate their STEM careers. These learning opportunities span from technical development to career development. Alethea strives to provide a solid foundation for the escalation of women in life sciences and the expansion of life sciences in Pittsburgh. We applaud all she is doing for our organization, our community, and the world.

We recognize Ms. Wieland as a very P.O.W.E.R.ful member of our community!  Ms. Wieland was presented an award from the Pittsburgh City Council and a personal letter from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf which applauded her success. Governor Tom Wolf wrote: “Your caliber of character, passion, and inner strength, as well as your desire for helping others, is impressive.  I applaud your tenacity as an advocate for the success of women in the life sciences, which remains crucial to the prosperity of the commonwealth and nations.”

Alethea Wieland has pioneered many innovative advancements in the field of her work and has left an indelible impact not only on our commonwealth, but across the nation.”  

Local artist Nancy McNary Smith was commissioned to craft the 2017 P.O.W.E.R. Award. This delicate but durable, eggshell-thin piece features an image lifted from ancient pottery of women linked arm-in-arm which evokes power and unity. Nancy says that making art helps her “feel, remember, and sometimes know” her own female identity.    

  

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WIB-Pittsburgh Presents: "P.O.W.E.R. 4 Precision Medicine," September 26, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

WIB-Pittsburgh tackled cutting-edge science in its capstone “P.O.W.E.R. 4 Precision Medicine” event on September 26, 2017. P.O.W.E.R. (Pittsburgh Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs Rally) in its fourth annual assembly focused on diverse perspectives of the movement toward precision medicine. Universities across the country and the NIH have made precision medicine an economic and scientific priority. Speakers addressing groundbreaking research included Jennifer Xavier, Linda McAllister-Lucas, Jessica Gibson, Lisa Boyette, Rebecca Crowley Jacobson, and Diane Holder, a distinguished group representing internationally-renowned organizations in health science industry, management, and academia. After an animated reception of introductions and reconnections, Dr. Stephanie Kladakis, WIB-Pittsburgh Chair, introduced the panel of international experts, followed by the presentations, questions, and P.O.W.E.R. Award presentation.

Dr. Jennifer Xavier spoke about The Institute for Precision Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh: The Institute translates the movement of biomedical research into personalized clinical care. Leading geneticists such as Dr. David Finegold, who was in attendance, are actively engaged with subject-matter experts such as Drs. Adrian Lee and Steffi Oesterreich, both also in attendance. Through the Institute, oncologists, bioinformaticians, and others work to apply classical research concepts to individual assessment of risk of disease, optimal treatment, disease course, and response to treatment. Dr. Xavier also described efforts the Institute of Precision Medicine is making to fuel the science: The Institute is building the infrastructure to employ “big data” pharmacogenomics to identify markers of disease and treatment response. One way to do this is in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Tissue Bank - one of the most comprehensive university biobanks. The University of Pittsburgh has honed its expertise to the extent that it has been selected as a site of the NIH “All of Us” research program, the national 1 million person cohort announced in President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. PA Cares for Us is spearheading the local initiative as it has been the first site to open and has enrolled the most people in the nation thus far!

Following Dr. Xavier, Dr. Linda McAllister-Lucas, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, delved into the cytogenetics and pharmacogenetics of pediatric care--which is materially different from the care and research for adult patients--in the context of pediatric oncology: “The biologies are different and must be characterized differently,” she said, noting that gender, responses to chemotherapy, and many other types of categorizations would benefit from more specific genetic analysis and genetic sequencing. She provided the example of a patient with an enzyme that could be targeted pharmacologically and outlined the outcome of the target and related case studies. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is part of the NCI COG Pediatric MATCH, a national effort to create a biobank of pediatric data.

Jessica Gibson, Chief Executive Officer of ARIEL Precision Medicine, spoke about ARIEL’s approach to digital health in the context of solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases. She emphasized the value of early treatment and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and ARIEL’s initial launch from study and analysis of pancreatic disorders in the platform of precision medicine: If clinicians target a disorder in the first-stage it will reduce end-stage complications, Ms. Gibson said. Genetic tests, growing electronic databases, communications of findings to physicians, aggregation of data, and monitoring of disease progression in a patient are some of ARIEL’s interests and offerings. But wasn’t just about the numbers, Ms. Gibson said - it stemmed from a personal commitment to medicine.

A personal commitment to medicine drew Lisa Boyette, M.D., Ph.D., to the forefront of her field. Roughly ten years ago, Dr. Boyette was a first-year medical student at the University of Virginia (http://www.virginia.edu/) with an emergency on her hands - a sibling had been diagnosed with an incurable illness. The disease progressed faster. And faster. She tried to apply all of the strategies for solving a problem that she drew from her undergraduate studies in engineering. She asked herself – “If I had all of the resources in the world and filled them in a room with all of the smartest people I know: could it save my brother?” No one knew what caused the disease. There were no effective medical therapies for it. The smartest people in the world … unlimited funding … time was running out… The answer was “No.” The drive for a cure drove her studies and subsequent career as a biomedical engineer, physician, and immunologist. It led her to found Curable, a non-profit research accelerator that applies engineering approaches to medicine. The development of “precision medicine,” the passion of current NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, helped Dr. Boyette develop her vision for solving the unsolvable problems and aggregating the tools to do it. By 2017, the answer has changed.

If you had all data that ARIEL, the Tissue Bank, and NCI had collected--if you had all of the data in the world--what would you do with it? How could it be meaningful? Dr. Rebecca Crowley Jacobson recognized a set of layers of data across a patient’s events. “Each scale is a universe of data,” she said, structured and unstructured. One way to address the organization of information would be to analysis of a phenotype through natural language processing. Natural language processing would allow a researcher to extract meaning from a text so it translates across a patient population by way of computational methods. With the clarity provided by slides, Dr. Crowley Jacobson illustrated how this might be done with one sentence: The words in exactly one sentence in a medical record could be linked together in order to link data to treatment and outcomes. Bioinformatics is a growing field, one that can classify the miracle of interpretation across a handful of punctuated words.

 In a medicine based on pyramids of information, making sense of it is the critical bridge to translation. The other bridge, as Diane Holder, Executive Vice President of UPMC, President of the UPMC Insurance Services Division, and President and CEO of UPMC Health Plan, observed is financial – precision medicine may be one answer to a patient or problem, but how do you pay for it? The goal is to meld science to clinical necessity – need can fuel innovation. It is important, she noted, to “turn value into dollars.” One way this is being done is through an initiative by UPMC in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University called the Health Data Alliance. Ms. Holder posed some tough questions: Take, for example, the tremendous innovation by the department of immunology – where metformin can replenish T cells in a murine model and lead to strong immunotherapy in the fight against cancer. “But do I see these discoveries making it to clinical trials,” she asked.

For precision medicine, what’s holding progress back? What’s the cause of its greatest acceleration? We don’t know, exactly. But at the end of the night WIB-Pittsburgh took nearly one-hundred and fifty people closer to the answers than they had been before.

 

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WIB-Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Workshop #3: "Leadership Success: Maximize Your Potential," August 21, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

On August 21, 2017, Diana Petrovich, Consultant with CRA, Inc., coached us on how to develop, build, and strengthen our leadership style: Being a leader is more than knowing the techniques of a good leader - it is about making leadership a part of who you are. Treat the unimportant as important and choose to show your character over your competence. Effective leaders understand that strong personal relationships can greatly help move themselves and their organizations on the path to success. While admired leaders do not know everything, they do know who knows the answer. This was just the beginning of Diana’s coaching. Being a strategic leader can help you build your own company, lead a team, or actively own your career development.

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WIB-Pittsburgh: WIB-Pittsburgh MAPs host Pop-up Happy Hour!

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Pittsburgh Mentors, Advisors, and Peers (MAPs) Committee was thrilled to welcome attendees to a Pop-Up Happy Hour at The Yard Gastropub in Shadyside. A wonderful group of women, including graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, early career faculty and professionals working in the life sciences, participated in the event. Current mentors and mentees were joined by several women new to the MAPs program. They enjoyed delicious snacks and drinks, as well as some great networking! If you are interested in learning more about the MAPs program, e-mail: PittsburghMAPs@womeninbio.org


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WIB-Pittsburgh Gets Social at Wigle Whiskey, July 24, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

WIB-Pittsburgh members and guests gathered at Wigle Whiskey on July 24, 2017, for an evening of speed networking and whiskey tasting. Participants had the opportunity to make new connections, share advice and experience, and practice their networking skills in a series of speed networking sessions.

Throughout the night, attendees were also able to sample whiskey and other spirits from Wigle, a local Pittsburgh distillery, and enjoy appetizers, while catching up with old friends and socializing with new acquaintances. It was a great way to spend a summer evening!

 

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WIB-Pittsburgh: "Welcome to Summer" 2nd Annual Potluck, June 4, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

WIB-Pittsburgh Welcomes Summer with Potluck Picnic

WIB-Pittsburgh members and their families attended the 2nd Annual “Welcome-to-Summer” potluck picnic on Sunday, June 4, 2017. The sun was present, which made it a wonderful way to kick off summer while enjoying grilled burgers and hotdogs, and tasting the delicious side dishes and desserts brought by everyone. In a friendly and convivial environment, members and guests met under the Anderson Shelter in Schenley Park.

Members took advantage of this relaxed atmosphere to get to know more about each other. It was also an opportunity for new members to find out about Women In Bio and upcoming chapter events. Several WIB-Pittsburgh spouses also connected with each other while their children enjoyed the playground and the delicious chocolate cookies and brownies! We look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

 

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WIB-Pittsburgh: Entrepreneurship Workshop #2: "Business Model Canvas," May 23, 2017

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

On May 23, 2017, WIB-Pittsburgh presented a workshop to educate attendees on how to transform an idea into a business. WIB-Pittsburgh sponsored this workshop as part of Life Sciences Pittsburgh's Life Sciences Week initiative.

Joanna Sutton, the VIP speaker, introduced workshop participants to an essential tool for establishing a successful startup: The 9 Building Blocks of the Business Model Canvas. These building blocks include value proposition, customer segments, channels, customer relationships, key resources, key activities, key partners, and cost structure.

Throughout her presentation Joanna stressed the fact that an idea is not equal to a business model. The evening ended with participants working to create a business model canvas for a well-known company - Amazon.

Throughout the night, attendees enjoyed excellent food and drinks as well as the opportunity to network with other participants while learning how to develop a business model canvas.

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