As a project leader with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Accelerator team, Emily Miller uses her technical background in basic science and her project management expertise to support investigators through the translation process. In a similar capacity, Emily works with CTSI’s myRESEARCHnavigators, answering research questions and connecting researchers with helpful Duke resources.
What Emily enjoys most about her job is getting to be a part of projects that can make a big impact in people’s lives. Currently, she is working with a team to develop a device which helps reduce the burden of brain tumors. Under the leadership of K.K. Lam and Alex Kemper, Emily was also recently part of the Evidence Review Group which helped a Federal Advisory Committee recommend adding spinal muscular atrophy to the newborn screening panel. Emily appreciates the role she gets to play in projects like these, and she learns a lot from the researchers.
“It’s amazing to get to help translate something that could be a cure or major breakthrough,” Emily said. “I’m getting to do what I’ve loved for years, and there’s a lot of variety in what I do every day that keeps me engaged.”
As a grad student at Duke, Emily struggled to find a career path in research that would get her closer to the action. After attending a session at Duke’s Career Center on project management, she decided that was a field she wanted to pursue. She applied for an internship at CTSI through the Discovering Career Options in Translational Science (DICOTS) Network and worked under Vonda Rodriguez’s mentorship - who now serves as her supervisor.
As a full-time employee with CTSI, Emily values the staff she gets to work with and learn from. Her team members are always willing to help when she has a question, and she’s constantly trying to learn new ways and methods to become a better project leader.
“I like being challenged, and in my role I learn something new every day,” Emily said. “Working with this team has been a great opportunity to hone my skills.”
And if it wasn’t for the valuable connections she made before accepting her role, including the Career Center resources and her relationship with Vonda, Emily wouldn’t have imagined her career path as a possibility.
“It’s so important to build your network early on and talk to anyone who’s willing to help out,” Emily said. “You never know who’s going to be a good connection, and if you put yourself out there, it can have a really meaningful impact on your career.”
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