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Nancy J. Cox, PhD Director, Influenza Division National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Nancy J. Cox, PhD Director, Influenza Division National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nancy J. Cox, PhD Director, Influenza Division National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Education and Career Development Workshop July 23, 2013 Finding a Virology Career Right for You: I Did it - So Can You! National Center for Immunization & Respiratory Diseases Influenza Division

2 Work Life Balance  I never met a woman, or a man who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all. Because no mater what any of us has-and how grateful we are for what we have-no one has it all.” Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

3 Careers in Virology  Careers in virology are complex  Deep and specialized field so strong background in a variety of disciplines is necessary  Many jobs in virology are rooted in performance of research  Intense competition for research publications and grants  Successful careers involve years of preparation  4 year Bachelor of Science degree along with MD and/or PhD  Several Postdoctoral Fellowship Years  Adds up to 12 + years of formal training for most  For women, preparation and early tenure track years occur during prime reproductive years

4 What Careers Are Possible? Academic research Industry research Teaching alone or in combination with research Science communications (writers/reporters) Business administration Patent law Foundations and Nongovernmental Organizations Basic science research or managing grants and contracts, NIH Regulatory Science, FDA Investigating disease outbreaks/applied research/public health– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization

5 My Career as Director of the Influenza Division at CDC  Extremely interesting & challenging with diverse responsibilities: supervision of surveillance and research activities; management of program, staff, and budget; international travel; and WHO activities  Complex internal CDC/ Health and Human Services relationships and structures; complex international relationships and responsibilities; CDC and federal regulations to navigate  The Influenza Division – approx. 300 staff with half permanent employees and half contractors  Diverse backgrounds of very talented and dedicated staff- many international employees, physicians, PhDs, veterinarians, postdocs, students and technicians and support staff

6 The Influenza Program at CDC Wasn’t Always this Robust  14 Staff when I became Influenza Branch Chief in 1992  Take employees on even if they didn’t work out with others if they have talents to offer  Hire the best possible staff, & provide mentorship and career opportunities so they will stay long term  Take advantage of every possible funding opportunity  Tell the story of what has been accomplished by the group over and over  Learn how and when to say no  Understand the way the world is changing and adapt as best you can

7 Saving Lives. Protecting People CDC-INFO Nancy J. Cox

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9 Preparation: My Story  Graduated from a high school in rural Iowa with only 18 students in my class  No guidance counselor but…..  High school chemistry teacher identified a summer college program for high school students at Iowa universities; attended between junior and senior years  Applied to only two Iowa universities  Full scholarship to Iowa State University – family couldn’t help financially  Worked in labs during the summers and got a taste for research  Graduated with major in microbiology / minors in chemistry and philosophy

10 Preparation  Love of science and desire to see more of the world led me to apply for a Marshall Scholarship to study in the U.K.  Imagine my surprise when I received a Marshall Scholarship to study virology at Cambridge University !  Plunged into a different cultural/educational milieu with different expectations; a sink or swim experience  Received a PhD in virology 4 years later  Came back to the U.S. for post docs and eventually a staff position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

11 If I Can Do It So Can You! Work Life  Never be afraid of a challenge (challenge from small rural IA high school to huge university and from ISU to Cambridge University in the UK)  Don’t take difficulties in the workplace personally – the issue is often more about the other person than about you (Disproportionate number of women in the influenza group; but I hired the best candidates)  Decide on your career goals (become and remain a SME or become more of a generalist and move up the ladder faster)  Be willing to work hard (many hours outside of work when family sleeping)

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13 Research Findings for Scientists- Work/Life Balance  Assoc. for Women in Science Report on Work Life Balance  Answers from over 4,000 scientists across the world  70% men and 80% married or with partner  Findings similar in the U.S. and worldwide Over 50% said work demands conflict with personal lives at least 2-3 times per week  48% of women and 39% of men unhappy with the way their work and personal lives mesh  63% satisfied with career opportunities - linked to job security, clear career progression path and good work life balance  40% of women put off having children b/c of career

14 If I Can Do It So Can You! Family Life  Science career stories are often about balance as well as unique teaching/work styles and interesting research studies; mine is no exception.  Both parents ambitious and focused; both travel for work but want a family (A daughter and stepson)  Along the way – a few missed holidays and birthdays, but nothing major – hired a nanny to accommodate travel needs – many difficult discussions about shared responsibilities  I think that we made it work pretty well; pretty well isn’t perfect but it’s good enough (do not try to make things work out perfectly).

15 What Factors Made a Successful Career and Family Live Possible for Me?  Support from teachers and professors in high school and university during the years of preparation  Support from Division Director at CDC to work part time after birth of child – had worked at CDC for nearly 10 years; gave up Team Lead position and subsequently work my way back up the ladder  Combined income allowed us to hire live-in nanny when our child was 9 so we could both travel  Very supportive husband  Learning to hire wisely, mentor and delegate  Being stubborn enough not to give up

16 Get More Comfortable With This as You Go Along!

17 Recognition Along the Way

18 Doubts Along the Way? Of Course Could I succeed in science/virology? Is lab bench science too isolated for my social needs? Could I cope with a very challenging work supervisor ? Should I remain in the federal workforce at CDC or should I move to academia? Could I raise a family and have a successful career? Could I maintain long time (>30 years) enthusiasm for my job? Can I continue to “do 24/7” in response mode? (recent H7N9 response) Can I remain relevant?

19 Have Fun Along the Way Find time to play with family and colleagues. Whatever you do, laugh a lot as you go. Be willing to get outside your “science comfort zone”.

20 Favorite Quotes  I never met a woman, or a man who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all. Because no mater what any of us has-and how grateful we are for what we have-no one has it all.” Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead  “Bear in mind your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. “ Abraham Lincoln  “My career has been more satisfying that I ever dreamed.” Nancy Cox

21 Thank You!


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