In April, former NIEHS Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) fellow Samantha Hoopes, Ph.D., transitioned from the lab bench to clinical product development at Rho, Inc., a contract research organization in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hoopes follows in the footsteps of former NIEHS colleague Monica Frazier, Ph.D.
At NIEHS, Hoopes worked in the Environmental Cardiopulmonary Disease Group, led by NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, M.D., who said that Hoopes will be missed. “In addition to being an outstanding postdoctoral fellow, Samantha was very active in the NIEHS Trainees’ Assembly where she organized the 18th Annual NIEHS Biomedical Career Symposium, served as president, and compiled the intramural scientific photograph collection that now decorates our second floor hallways,” he said. “Although we will miss her greatly, the new position at Rho is a wonderful opportunity for her to further develop her leadership skills.”
Gradually refining goals
Hoopes, who spent less than three years as an NIEHS IRTA fellow, obtained her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied the cardiovascular system and G-coupled protein receptors. “I really enjoy research,” said Hoopes, “but I am also passionate about other aspects of science, including writing and editing.”
For Hoopes, settling on a career was a process of gradual refinement. “I came to my fellowship with an open mind about my career path,” she said. “Over the course of several years, I began to clarify what parts of science were most interesting to me.” At NIEHS, Hoopes wrote and edited several manuscripts, which helped inform her decision. She also arranged informational interviews with employees at Rho, allowing her to learn about the company and potential positions.
In addition to her work in the lab, Hoopes took on key leadership roles, through which she developed project management skills. She also attended a research mentor training program, then mentored a summer intern.
When ready to apply for the job, Hoopes sought advice from Tammy Collins, Ph.D., director of the Office of Fellows' Career Development, on all aspects of the job application and the interview process. “Tammy’s guidance was extremely helpful, both with my CV and interview preparation,” Hoopes said. “She is a great resource for career development.”
Hoopes is looking forward to learning more about regulatory affairs and clinical product development that may result in new therapies for patients. Carrie-Lynn Langlais Furr, Ph.D., senior director for operations at Rho, shared Hoopes’ anticipation.
“Rho is very excited to have Samantha Hoopes join our team. Her academic accomplishments, distinguished leadership roles, deep experience authoring and reviewing articles, and genuine interest in technology transfer and drug development made her an excellent candidate for Rho's Integrated Product Development Program,” she said. “We look forward to a long, collaborative, intellectual relationship with Sam.”
Hoopes recommends that other fellows set out career goals early. “See what activities you can get involved with, in order to develop all of the skills you will need for a successful transition. Start at the beginning of your fellowship.”
(Simone Otto, Ph.D., is an Intramural Research Training Award fellow in the NIEHS Ion Channel Physiology Group.)