GA Bio's Emerging Leader Network Interviews ACTSI Leader Carolyn Meltzer, MD

By Nivedita Raghunath, Emerging Leader Network (the ELN is a division of Georgia Bio) Emory Liaison and Communications Coordinator, Research Specialist at Emory Radiology

Dr. Carolyn Meltzer, Professor and Chair of Radiology, and Director of the Translational Technologies and Resources Program (TTR) at the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) took some time out to share her views on mentoring and technology commercialization, topics very closely aligned with ELN's mission. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

How important is mentoring in career development?
Mentoring is very important to career growth— especially in today's interdisciplinary environment. I had mentors in several areas of science I was interested in, and I had mentors from whom I also gleaned more general skills such as leadership, communication, and how to navigate my career. I also learned to effectively reach out to others, the art of saying "no" when I'm overstretched without burning bridges, and the art of promoting myself because it's often difficult to get others to promote you. I have mentored around 40 individual research projects, PhD students and post doc visiting scholars.

Can you give me an example from your own mentoring experience?
I started out with a K award myself, and had a K24 award mid-career that allowed me to take on mentees. One of my mentees Eydie Moses-Kolko, who I co-mentored with Sarah Berga (chair of OBGYN at Emory), is now an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, where she works in the area of women's mental health. We keep in touch even to this day, and it's an ongoing professional relationship.

From an academic perspective, what are your views on technology commercialization?
It's a delicate balance right now because we need to commercialize, we need the interaction between industry and academia, yet the pendulum is certainly swaying in terms of conflict of interest issues. Appropriately so, for the public good we need to have more clarity of those firewalls. So the challenge for us is to make sure we keep that interaction really going but take out as much of the conflict as possible. I wish I had the answer for it.

Can you tell me more about ACTSI?
CTSI's Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) fosters the commercialization of the most promising projects for translation. One of the main pillars of renewal for the TTR program is the project's focus on the commercialization piece. What we are interested in is organically supporting education about technology transfer because we feel people do not have enough knowledge regarding how to go about that process. ELN/Georgia Bio is a great connection in this regard. The CTSA can potentially support or fund related programs, and this can be a great synergy and collaboration that would benefit both organizations.

About Carolyn
Dr. Meltzer joined Emory School of Medicine in October 2005 as the William Patterson Timmie Professor and Chief Academic Officer of Radiology with secondary appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry. She is the founding Director of the Emory Neuroscience Imaging Research Center. She is board-certified in both Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, with subspecialty certification in Neuroradiology and advanced training in PET, and completed her medical degree and all post-doctoral training from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Meltzer also serves as the Program Director of the Translational Technologies and Resources (TTR) program at ACTSI.