Two Lab biomedical scientists named fellows

Aug. 20, 2012

Two Lab biomedical scientists named fellows

Stephen P Wampler,, 925-423-3107
Two Laboratory biomedical scientists have recently been named fellows.

Carolyn Hall and Dina Weilhammer both work in LLNL's Biosciences and Biotechnology Division.

Hall, 34, a microbiologist and analyst with the Biodefense Knowledge Center (BKC), has been selected as a 2012-13 Fellow of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative. Weilhammer, 30, an immunologist, has been named a 2012-13 American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Public Policy Fellow.

Hall was one of 25 fellows -- out of 150 applicants -- selected for the biosecurity program, which is operated by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Biosecurity.

"I was very excited to be picked for the emerging leaders program," Hall said. "I'm new to the biosecurity field and this provides me with a great opportunity to meet leaders in the field and to network."

Hall missed the biosecurity fellowship program's first workshop in May in Washington, D.C. because she had just given birth to her first child. But she has been able to participate in other activities.

The biosecurity fellows have an online group at LinkedIn. "There has been a lot of discussion about careers, biosecurity, biopreparedness, job openings and general news," Hall said.

Hall and other biosecurity fellows took part in an Aug. 20 webinar, conducted by Richard Danzig, a former Secretary of the Navy and chairman of the board for the Center for New American Security, on "How Do We Prepare For What We Can't Predict?"

Then, next month, the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative fellowship group, will host its fall seminar, spending Sept. 13 at LLNL and Sept. 14 in a meeting in San Francisco.

The biosecurity fellowship initiative is a competitive program designed to create and sustain a multidisciplinary and intergenerational biosecurity community made up of young professionals, as well as current leaders.

Hall, who joined the Laboratory in November, 2009, holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Stanford University.

Weilhammer, a postdoctoral researcher at LLNL, is one of 10 AAI Public Policy Fellows.

"It's been an excellent and an eye-opening program," Weilhammer said. "We've been involved in learning about the federal budgeting process and how funds from the National Institutes of Health are appropriated.

"As graduate students, most of us don't pay that much attention to the grant-writing process. It's more the job of the principal investigator. As you advance in your career and become responsible for securing your own funding, the reality of how difficult it can be becomes more obvious. As fellows, we're learning what we as scientists can do to influence policy decisions that impact funding for biomedical research," Weilhammer added.

In May, Weilhammer and the other AAI Public Policy Fellows attended Immunology 2012, a four-day conference in Boston.

At LLNL, Weilhammer is working under biologist Amy Rasley as part of a team developing a therapeutic that would activate a person's immune system to provide protection against a variety of bacterial and/or viral pathogens, such as from a bioterrorist attack or a pandemic outbreak.

"I was very pleased to have been selected as a fellow. I've always believed that scientists need to have more conversations with the general public. It's very important for us to effectively communicate how our work impacts society for its betterment," Weilhammer said.

The AAI is an association of professionally trained scientists from all over the world dedicated to advancing the knowledge of immunology and its related disciplines, as well as addressing the potential integration of immunologic principles into clinical practice.

Weilhammer, who started at LLNL in January 2011, received her Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley.