5 Questions with Laura Coleman, Director of Translational Medicine at NIBR

Dr. Laura Coleman is an experienced translational medicine expert who had a strong background in clinical research, nutrition science, clinical dietetic, and epidemiology. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Community Health and PhD in Human Nutrition Science from the Tufts University Friedman School.

We got a chance to interview Dr. Laura Coleman about her academic and career journey.

1. In just a few sentences, please tell us about your current job/vocational endeavor.

I have been a Translational Medicine Expert at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research for the past 5 years, in the Musculoskeletal Disease area. As the medical lead on phase 1 and 2a clinical trials, I am responsible for developing and implementing study protocols, conducting clinical monitoring and safety data reviews, providing medical and scientific leadership and expertise to various line functions on the study team, and overseeing publication and external presentation of study results.

2. How did Friedman school influence your career/academic journey?

My experience at the Friedman School significantly influenced my career path, primarily via the connections that I developed while at Tufts. After several decades of working in various academic and industry positions, I returned “home” to Boston and am working with my PhD thesis advisor again, 25 years later!

3. What advice would you offer to a student who wants to pursue a career path like yours?

My career path was not a straight line, meaning that I did not know that I would ultimately end up working in industry. My advice for young scientists is to be curious and keep an open mind. Always explore opportunities, even if it’s not exactly what you thought you would do. Don’t be constrained by what you already know. Leverage your connections. Take risks.

4. What are the necessary soft and hard skills needed for your job? 

Soft skills that are absolutely essential in my role are communication and the ability to work well with others as part of a diverse, matrixed team. Unlike in an academic setting, where success is measured by your work; your grants; etc., success in industry is about being able to collaborate and remain open-minded while recognizing that there are multiple forces at play when strategic decisions are made. Letting go of one’s ego is essential. These skills can be honed in any role that a person has.

5. What was your career goal five years ago? If you could leave yourself a message about (career development, or life in general?) to yourself five years ago, what will that be?

Say no more often!

By Ingrid Zhou
Ingrid Zhou Student Ambassador