Apply for Inaugural Fellowship to Explore the Intersection of Science and Policy

Diane Berry, PhD - October 13, 2022

Dr. Berry explains why ASGCT members should apply for the Congressional Policy Fellowship by March 15.

If you are curious about the intersection between science and policy, and excited about the opportunity to share your cell and gene therapy insights and expertise with legislators, ASGCT and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have an opportunity for you to make an impact on patients and our industry.

In partnership with AAAS, ASGCT recently launched an advocacy initiative that will start in the fall of 2023. We'll select one applicant for a one-year Congressional Policy Fellowship. Every year, a fellow will be embedded in a legislative office on Capitol Hill to provide high-quality, science-based, independent guidance to federal policy makers and elevate awareness of the Society among policymaking circles.

ASGCT strives to inform legislators and regulators about the profound potential of gene and cell therapies, and to develop policy relationships that will help facilitate development, approval, and broad patient access to new therapies. The Fellowship was created with these efforts in mind.

In your role on Capitol Hill, you’ll learn to look at issues through a 360-degree view and balance disparate perspectives, including those from academia, industry, government, patient and physician communities, and others. The Fellowship offers the opportunity to help shape policy through a data-driven, scientific lens. You’ll apply your knowledge of cutting-edge science and the technology of gene and cell therapies to help create new policies, modernize outdated ones, and knock down barriers that could stifle future innovations or prevent today’s gene and cell therapies from reaching patients.

Did you ever want to learn how to “mark-up” a bill? (And no, it doesn’t mean what I thought it did on my first day on Capitol Hill as I took out a red pen to start editing!) Through the Fellowship, you’ll gain exposure to the legislative process and learn how to best influence and inform policymaking such that policy keeps pace with the rapidly evolving field of gene and cell therapy. Fellows will help to bridge the divide between legislators and scientists and develop invaluable communication skills – distilling very technical issues into easily understood concepts and actionable recommendations for members of Congress. The skills gleaned from this opportunity will carry fellows into the next stage of their careers, all while promoting informed, inclusive, scientific policy.

As a former AAAS fellow myself, I can attest that this opportunity with ASGCT will provide a life-long network of fellows that stretches across the executive and legislative branches of government. These are connections that will open doors, create opportunities, and help you navigate many stages of your career journey. This fellowship can help set the foundation for your future opportunities, whether that be in public policy, bench science, or wherever life takes you. For ASGCT members who are more advanced in their careers, this program will provide you with new perspectives and skills that will help you bring the field and your career to the next level. 

Don’t just take my word for it, hear from other AAAS science and technology fellows on their experiences preparing for the upcoming fellowship term.

The Society is excited to pilot this Fellowship program and will accept publications through March 15, 2023. Applicants must be ASGCT members with a doctoral degree. AAAS has additional resources for interested candidates, including application tips. Be sure to review the online materials and FAQ, and consider applying for the 2023-2024 Confessional Policy Fellowship this fall!

Dr. Berry is Senior Vice President of Global Policy, Government and Patient Affairs at Sarepta Therapeutics.  She is chair of the ASGCT Government Relations Committee. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sarepta Therapeutics.