Christie A. Canaria

Program Director, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

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Our future depends on your appreciation of science to lead our communities.

What do you do?

I help small business biotech companies to get their innovative technologies to patients who need them.

Why did you choose this field?

I had an awesome chemistry teacher in high school. She made me love science and then told me how I could work at a university research lab (while still in school)! I was lucky to have amazing women and men as mentors for me.

After college, I worked at a small biotech company (Illumina, Inc.) in San Diego. It was my first job and really exciting because the company went public while I worked there. We worked really hard to develop technologies to understand how our DNA makes us unique. Today, the company’s technology powers products like 23&Me and Ancestry.com. My experience at Illumina was so formative for me and inspired me to continue supporting the work biotech companies do to protect human health.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I was invited to speak at the White House. I never knew that science and policy could ever mix, but they CAN, SHOULD, and DO! It is so important that we, as citizens, appreciate and value science, even if we aren’t professional scientists. Science policy helps us make informed decisions that affect our daily lives.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love working in STEM because basic research can lead to innovative technologies, but you can’t know at the outset where that curious question you ask as a scientist will lead. All modern technologies started as a basic question someone asked.

The biotech companies I work with are all at the early stage of technology development. I love knowing that, in some small way, I am a part of their future successes.

Best advice for next generation?

I encourage you to dive in and explore STEM now! Even if you decide along the way that a career in STEM is not your life’s calling, the foundation in science will empower you to be an informed citizen. Especially if your career is not in STEM, our future depends on your appreciation of science to lead our communities.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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