Former Post-Doctoral Fellows

Saurabh VishnubhakatSaurabh Vishnubhakat, JD, LLM, is an Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University and a fellow in the Duke Law Center for Innovation Policy.  Saurabh writes and teaches on intellectual property law, civil procedure, and administrative law, particularly from an empirical perspective.  He was a postdoctoral associate from 2014 to 2015 at the Duke Law School and the Duke Center for Public Genomics (Duke’s CEER), where his principal project was an historical analysis of the creation of a new USPTO examination unit for biotechnology and pharmaceutical inventions.  That paper, co-authored with Duke Law professor Arti Rai, was accepted in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.

Until 2015, Saurabh was also an advisor in the USPTO, where he counseled the agency’s first two chief economists on a variety of policy issues including ownership and transparency in markets for technology, patent and competition law implications of standard-setting, and the patent system’s role for fostering innovation in general-purpose technologies.  Saurabh received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and earned his law degrees from the Franklin Pierce Law Center (now the University of New Hampshire School of Law).

Mollie MinearMollie Minear, PhD, was a postdoctoral associate in the Center for Public Genomics (CpG) from 2012-2015. She received both undergraduate and graduate training in genetics and genomics, attending the University of Maryland, College Park (B.Sc., 2005) and Duke University (Ph.D., 2012).  Much of her research at the CpG examined the ethical, legal, social, clinical, and policy issues raised by the use of non-invasive prenatal genetic testing (NIPT) in the U.S. and in the developing world. Other research projects studied the licensing practices of the cystic fibrosis gene patents, the uptake and knowledge of personalized and precision medicine at the Duke University Health System, and a survey of victims’ advocates regarding the use of DNA in combating human trafficking. During her postdoc, Mollie was also a 2014 Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies, where she worked with the National Cancer Policy Forum in the Institute of Medicine to examine policy issues surrounding cancer biomarker tests. In 2015-16, Mollie is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Richard YamadaRichard Yamada, PhD, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Public Genomics, where he worked on developing quantitative frameworks to use to evaluate the role of risk in policy-related problems.  After his time at Duke, he accepted a position as Professional Staff Member and Policy Advisor at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Richard came to Duke after serving as the 2011-2012 AAAS-AMS Congressional Fellow, working in the office of Senator John Boozman. In that position, Richard was the chief science advisor to Senator Boozman, Ranking Member of the Space and Science Subcommittee, 112th Congress. Prior to becoming a Fellow, Richard was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan. His scientific research has focused on developing and testing mathematical models of transcription regulation, merging experimental data, numerical algorithms and theory. He also taught courses in both pure and applied mathematics and mentored the research projects of 13 undergraduate students.  Richard received his B.S. with distinction from Yale University (majoring in both physics and mathematics). He then matriculated to Cornell University where he received both his MSc and PhD in applied mathematics. His thesis focused on developing mathematical models of transcription elongation dynamics.

MicheleEaster2015Michele Easter, PhD, was a post-doctoral fellow at the CpG from August 2010 to August 2012. Michele received her PhD in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied cultural sociology and social psychology. Her dissertation (and articles in Social Science & Medicine and Sociology of Health and Illness) examined how women diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia nervosa understand the idea that genes could play a role in eating disorders. Her research centered on public perception of behavioral and psychiatric genetics and its implications, particularly how genes may or may not be reconciled with social forces and individual responsibility.

While a post-doc at CpG, Michele worked with faculty Dr. Laura Beskow (and School of Nursing faculty Dr. Sharron Docherty) on a research project about institutional considerations surrounding the clinical use of whole genome/exome sequencing, for which she conducted over 30 qualitative interviews with genome scientists, genetic counselors, IRB personnel, and other stakeholders. She also developed her book-style dissertation into several manuscripts and developed project proposals related to the implications of genetic research into antisocial behavior. Since September 2012, she has contributed to policy-oriented research with the Services Effectiveness Research Program at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, first as NRSA postdoctoral fellow and then as Senior Research Associate.

JessicaBardillJessica Bardill, PhD, received her Ph.D. in English at Duke University in 2011, and worked throughout that time with the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy. Her research fields include Native American and Indigenous studies, bioethics, contemporary American literature, and science studies. Specifically, her work engages the importance of narratives in genomic research, particularly that which involves and engages indigenous peoples. Her postdoctoral work with the Center for Public Genomics involved working on contributions to the National Congress of American Indians Genetics Resource Center on tribal enrollment and genetic ancestry testing, and preparing pedagogical materials for interdisciplinary instruction on the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic research. She was able to implement some of these pedagogical materials in the Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics (SING) workshop.

After her time at CpG, she went on to a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and then a Lecturer in the Thinking Matters Program at Stanford University before becoming an Assistant Professor at East Carolina University.

Britt RusertBritt Rusert, PhD, received her Ph.D. in English and graduate certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University in 2009. Her research fields include early African American literature and culture, the history of race and science, book history, and critical theory. She is also interested in race and genomics, as well as the contemporary afterlives of nineteenth-century racial science. In 2009-10 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Public Genomics, investigating the history of patented DNA sequencing methods with Dr. Robert Cook-Deegan, and the history of BiDil, the first FDA approved drug targeted to a specific racial group, with Dr. Charmaine Royal.

After her time at CpG, Britt became an Assistant Professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her book manuscript, Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture, excavates a neglected genealogy of nineteenth-century black writers and performers who were interested in both rejecting emergent regimes of racial science and mobilizing different fields of popular science—including phrenology, ethnology, anatomy, and astronomy—in the struggle for emancipation. Her next project will explore how recent developments in genomics and biotechnology are poised to radically transform the study of race and identity in Black Studies.

Wayne BeyerWayne F. Beyer, Jr., PhD, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Center for Public Genomics, and is currently a Project Leader for Duke Translational Research Institute (DTRI) at Duke University. His interests are focused in the areas of translational medicine with an emphasis on rapidly translating ideas to products. He spent his time working with the non-profit Chordoma Foundation establishing a tissue biobank / biorepository to facilitate identifying a cure and a treatment for this rare, slow growing bone cancer. The challenges of setting up a tissue bank with a patient advocacy group are enormous – beginning with informing patients that a tissue bank exists to ensuring that data collected is made available and distributed to Researchers in a real-time fashion.

Wayne’s background includes a Ph.D in Inorganic Chemistry with a specific focus on metals and protein/peptides and bioanalytical methods. He has made numerous contributions in the areas of oxy-radical research, Virology, Microbiology and Protein Chemistry. Wayne has many years of experience in the design, research and development of in-vitro diagnostics, devices, biopharma, and in the area of biological drug development. He has held Academic Positions in addition to working for several large (Fortune 500) companies and help launch small Biotech start-ups. Funding experience include traditional NIH grants, SBIRs and STTRs.

ShubhaPhotoSubhashini (Shubha) Chandrasekharan, PhD, graduated with an MSc in Biological Sciences from the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in India and received her PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. She completed postdoctoral training in 2006 at the Department of Genetics, UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research, supported by a Department of Defense Breast Cancer postdoctoral training award, examined the biological function of the prostaglandin E, in normal mammary gland physiology and breast tumor formation using transgenic and gene “knockout” mice for PGE2 metabolism enzymes and receptors. In 2006, she became a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Public Genomics and studied the impact of patents and licensing practices on access to clinical genetic tests in the US for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee of Genetics Health and Society.

Shubha became a Senior Research Associate at the IGSP in 2008 and was awarded an R03 grant in 2009 by the NHGRI to examine the impact of IP on the development of emerging genomic diagnostics and clinical whole genome sequencing services. She was Research Assistant Professor in the IGSP between July 2012 – June 2014, where she studied ethical, legal, social, and policy issues surrounding IP and the commercialization of biomedical technologies including new genomic diagnostics, and new and underutilized vaccines (e.g. HPV vaccines).

After her time at the IGSP, Shubha became a Research Assistant Professor at the Duke Global Health Institute and studies ELSI and policy issues surrounding the commercialization and clinical implementation of new genomic technologies for noninvasive prenatal testing in the US (R01HG007074) and in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2015-16, she is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the Global Development Lab at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

SapnaKumar2015Sapna Kumar, JD, is an attorney who received undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin (B.S., B.A. 1999). She then attended the University of Chicago (J.D. 2003). Upon graduating, Sapna practiced intellectual property law from 2003 to 2005 at the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and from 2005 to 2006 at Pattishall McAuliffe.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Center for Public Genomics, Sapna researched the relationship of synthetic biology to intellectual property law, focusing on the obstacles that scientists face in fostering collaboration and openness in the field. She also pursued independent research on patent litigation in the International Trade Commission. In 2008, Sapna left GELP to clerk for the Hon. Judge Kenneth Ripple on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and later became an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center.

Jennifer PohlhausJennifer Reineke Pohlhaus, PhD, is a science policy professional who graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (B.S., 1999) and Duke University (Ph.D., 2005). Her undergraduate and graduate scientific training was in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics. Throughout her education and career, she has participated in programs that dwell at the intersection of science with the outside world.

In 2006, Dr. Pohlhaus was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Public Genomics, where she helped develop Center policy on public access journal choice when publishing manuscripts. She also produced an independent, international benchmark of worldwide public and non-profit funders of genomics research. Later in 2006, Dr. Pohlhaus received a highly competitive fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship Program, in which scientists, engineers, and doctors contribute to the Federal policy-making progress for 1-2 years. Dr. Pohlhaus executed her fellowship in the NIH Office of the Director, where she coordinated major research and policy efforts in the area of women in biomedical careers, and provided senior policy-makers with advice and recommendations to set policy, such as the successful broadening of eligibility for several NIH programs. She planned and supervised two national conferences, and assisted with the program management of two large, interdisciplinary grant programs. She regularly produced memoranda, presentations and speeches for senior NIH staff, and personally delivered a briefing to staff of the United States House of Representatives Science & Technology Committee. Dr. Pohlhaus was recognized as a “Woman in Science” at NIH 2007-2008.

In 2008, Dr. Pohlhaus joined Ripple Effect Communications as Director of Science and Policy. She is now the Vice President and co-owner, and she directs large teams in solving problems at the interface of science, policy, communications, and IT for government agencies, including the DOD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, the NIH Office of Extramural Research and several NIH Institutes and Centers. Dr. Pohlhaus is regularly consulted to produce technically authoritative materials, whether peer-reviewed or internal, for use by policy makers and the public. In recognition of her accomplishments, she has received two NIH Director’s Awards and two awards from the Office of Extramural Research for Extreme Dedication.

Ilse Wiechers

Ilse Wiechers, MD, MPP, MHS was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Center for Public Genomics from 2005 to 2006. During that time she coordinated data gathering for a database on global funding for genomics research, supervised student projects on the history of seminal genomic technologies, and organized the summer research program.

Ilse became Associate Director at the Northeast Program Evaluation Center in the Office of Mental Health Operations of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. She serves as the National Program Director for the Psychotropic Drug Safety Initiative, a VA nation-wide psychopharmacology quality improvement initiative that aims to improve the safe and effective use of psychiatric medications in VA. In addition, she provides clinical care to older Veterans in the West Haven VA Medical Center Integrated Primary Care Clinic and teaches as faculty in the Yale Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship.

Ilse earned her undergraduate degree in political science at Case Western Reserve University. She then received a Master in Public Policy and medical degree from Duke, followed by her time with the Center for Public Genomics. She completed her residency training in Psychiatry at MGH/McLean Hospitals and her Geriatric Psychiatry fellowship at Yale. She is an alumna of the VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment, the Yale RWJF/VA Clinical Scholars Program, and the John A. Hartford Foundation’s Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine and Geriatric Psychiatry Training Program.

ColinCrossman_PhotoColin Crossman, JD., graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (B.S. 2000) and went on to attend Duke for both Law (J.D. 2003) and Graduate School in Biomedical Engineering (M.S. 2004). Prior to his Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Public Genomics, he practiced Patent Law as a sole practitioner. While at Duke, he worked on patent practices and licensing models for biomedical and pharmaceutical innovation. In addition, he worked to bring researchers from the biosciences together with the law school to discuss problems researchers have obtaining and working under Material Transfer Agreements. This work spurred an interest in using elements of computational biology and natural language processing to data-mine the Patent Office to discover “submarine patents.” In 2008, Colin retired from academia to found a business.

Page last updated on 8 June 2015 for the Duke University Center for Public Genomics, funded by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute (P50 HG 003391)