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July 2011

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Klotz departs NIEHS for position at Sanford-Burnham

By Archana Dhasarathy
July 2011

Diane Klotz, Ph.D.

Like her predecessor, Klotz brought to her job her own experiences as a postdoc, negotiating the twists and turns of career development. During her four years as OFCD director, Klotz expanded the training program at NIEHS and earned a place in the hearts of the many trainees whose lives she touched. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Bill Schrader, Ph.D.

In his announcement to trainees, NIEHS Deputy Scientific Director Bill Schrader, Ph.D., described Klotz as "a mainstay of training at NIEHS," and noted, "To say she'll be missed and hard to replace is an understatement." Schrader congratulated her on this advancement in her career. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS training mainstay Diane Klotz, Ph.D., left the Institute in June for a position at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in San Diego. Klotz has served as director of the NIEHS Office of Fellows' Career Development (OFCD)( part time starting in May 2007, transitioning into full-time director in September 2007.

In her new job at Sanford-Burnham, a National Cancer Institute-funded cancer center, Klotz will oversee both the graduate and programming training policies. She will also be responsible for oversight of the graduate and summer programs, as well as training policy development and implementation at both the La Jolla, Calif. and Lake Nona, Fla. locations of Sanford-Burnham.

The driving force behind the OFCD

Following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Debbie Swope, Ph.D., Klotz continued to foster an excellent training environment for postdoctoral fellows at NIEHS. A strong advocate for the fellows, Klotz helped ensure that they were exposed to a wide variety of training and networking opportunities.

"During her time at NIEHS, Diane has helped countless trainees successfully navigate the complexities of research, administration, and interpersonal relationships," said Erin Hopper, Ph.D., a trainee in the Mass Spectrometry Group. "She cared immensely for the fellows' career development and always strived to bring the best possible resources to fellows interested in a wide spectrum of career opportunities," agreed Raj Gosavi, Ph.D., a fellow in Structure and Function Research Group.

NTA Steering Committee Co-chair Nisha Cavanaugh, Ph.D., an IRTA fellow in the NIEHS DNA Repair and Nucleic Acid Enzymology Group said about her experience with Klotz, "She has been a great mentor and advisor for me. As co-chair of the NTA Steering Committee, I have worked closely with her and she has always provided guidance and support with every concern that the committee has raised."

Klotz also worked tirelessly and patiently to help international fellows handle a range of issues. "Many international fellows were hesitant to meet with her because they thought their English skills were poor," said Sung-Yong Hwang, Ph.D., a visiting fellow in the Calcium Regulation Group. "However, Diane Klotz was always very patient and professional. I met with her many times, and she always encouraged me and gave me practical assistance with my resume and other things," Hwang added.

In fact, Klotz has been responsible for many postdoctoral fellows transitioning to successful careers away from the bench. "Diane Klotz was an incredibly valuable resource at NIEHS when I applied for my current job at [the law firm] Alston and Bird( Exit NIEHS," said former NIEHS postdoctoral fellow, Jeffrey Sunman, Ph.D. "I will always be grateful for both the help and the enthusiasm that she brought to each of our meetings," he added.

The importance of networking

In addition to her primary position as director of the OFCD, Klotz also served on several institute-wide training committees, including the NIH Training Director's Committee, and was the chair of the Board of Directors for the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), where she now sits on the Advisory Council. "Diane Klotz's commitment to improving the postdoctoral experience, both at NIEHS and on a national level, is what makes her such a treasure," said Lori Conlan, Ph.D., director of the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education( Exit NIEHS.

Klotz strongly advocated networking as a key to finding the right job after completing postdoctoral studies. "Good science is of course a priority, but building and maintaining a professional network is equally important in today's extremely competitive market," she said. Indeed, it was her networking skills that helped land her current position. Klotz was recruited by the vice president of human resources at Sanford-Burnham - someone whom she had previously served with on the NPA board of directors.

Everyone who worked with Klotz at NIEHS wishes her all the best in this important next step in her career.

(Archana Dhasarathy, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the Eukaryotic Transcriptional Regulation Group in the NIEHS Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis.)

Roots in the postdoctoral experience: A multi-faceted career at NIEHS

Klotz' first experience at NIEHS was as an Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) fellow with former NIEHS scientist Richard DiAugustine, Ph.D., in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis. "Diane's most notable research effort while in the Hormones and Cancer Group was a study that examined a variety of synthetic and environmental estrogens," said DiAugustine, who retired a few years ago from NIEHS. "This was one of the first studies to show that environmental estrogens mimic estradiol in vivo, by stimulating a growth factor pathway," he added. She stayed on as a research fellow to actively pursue her work, including some collaborative projects with Ken Korach, Ph.D., principal investigator and chief of the Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology.

During her postdoctoral career, Klotz was also actively involved in National Trainees Assembly (NTA)( and the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)( Exit NIEHS. She served as chair of the NTA Steering Committee for a year and a half, on the NPA board of directors for two years, and as chair of the NPA for a year.

These experiences increased her interest in how a scientific organization functioned, and helped her transition to becoming director of the OFCD. "Rather than focus on just my own research, I became more interested in helping to develop a flourishing research organization as a whole," said Klotz. "I felt lucky working at NIEHS, because I was not completely isolated from science. I could still go to scientific seminars and speak with people about their research," she added.

When asked what she would miss the most at her new job, Klotz replied, "The people I've worked with, and the friendships I've built, both personal and professional." She added, "I will also miss all of the fellows I have worked with. But there are many great mentors at NIEHS and I am especially encouraged by the level of engagement by our tenure track PIs, and I look forward to hearing of much continued success for all the NIEHS postdoctoral fellows."

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