Program Management at KCAS (part 1 of 3) Welcoming Rebecca Wates, Ph.D.

It was early March 2020, the tendons in my right hand were swollen and throbbing, and I was seeking to learn more about off-the-bench careers at CROs and finally retire from pipetting. A few days before, I’d registered for a webinar on gender parity in STEM and I was excited to hear more from Dr. Amy Mize, Sr. Vice President Business Development at KCAS. Following the webinar, I reached out to Amy on LinkedIn to arrange coffee. Before we could connect, the COVID19 pandemic-related stay-at-home orders began along with the mad dash to develop treatments and vaccines and one of the largest growth periods for the CRO sector. A date for coffee just didn’t work out. It should go without saying, then, that I was elated a year later to have an opportunity to interview for a program management role under her leadership. For me, this role represents the opportunity to learn CRO business development from a fellow woman and PhD. Additionally, over the years as I completed postdoctoral training in the KC area, I was always impressed with the participation in community outreach by KCAS employees. I embrace volunteerism, and I am happy to have an employer with this shared value.

 

At 18 I left Kansas City for college, choosing Dillard University in New Orleans, LA to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Biology and the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon. Quickly, several of my professors identified me as a student who might thrive in research – I asked a lot of questions. Their mentorship convinced me to participate in a summer research experience for undergraduates at Emory University. My mentors were right. I was hooked on research! I went on to complete a summer research experience at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and a dual-appointed summer research internship at the University of Missouri and Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. I completed my doctorate in Pharmacology at Mizzou and trained as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow, and eventually senior scientist, at the University of Kansas Medical before leaving academia and moving into the CRO space with a goal of having a more direct impact on treatment of human disease.

 

As a PhD trained scientist with nearly 20 years of laboratory experience, my decision to leave the bench behind is often met with surprise from my peers. However, I see it as an opportunity like no other. Providing centralized oversight of programs on behalf of our clients. Providing support for clients with potential therapies moving through the drug development pipeline. Program Management offers an awe-inspiring, birds eye view of the innovative approaches to treating disease by the most brilliant scientists of our time.

 

KCAS Program Management especially stands apart. Each member of our program management team is incredibly experienced, with a diverse range of professional backgrounds and strengths. Together, our team has over 65 years of scientific experience and nearly 20 years of experience in project/program management. Although a single program management is assigned to a client, we work collaboratively to leverage our diverse strengths to ensure every part of the program has maximal support. Excitingly, this month KCAS is beginning a rollout of proprietary software providing single interface for our contracts, sales, and operations teams to update project progress, providing streamlined and comprehensive oversight for our program managers. Having this data at our fingertips allows the program management team to provide timely and thorough updates to our clients, bolstering our overall client engagement strategy. Our team members are professional, passionate and hardworking and we truly consider ourselves as members of our client’s team, embedded within KCAS.

 

Increasingly, as scientific discovery expands our understanding of human disease and treatments so too increases the size, scope and complexity of bioanalytical data required to bring new therapies to the market. Program managers are here to support clients in this endeavor, removing some of the managements tasks so our clients can focus on the important part: the science!