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Education / Graduate Education / BEST Program / Training Pathways / Science and Technology Policy

Science and Technology Policy

Traditional training programs provide little or no instruction relating to science and technology (S&T) policy - yet it is increasingly important that biomedical research trainees understand the role of science and scientists in informing public policy development. This Pathway provides the knowledge, skills and critical network and partnerships to further pursue a career in science policy. Students successfully completing this pathway will be uniquely positioned to compete for S&T policy fellowships (e.g., AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship and National Academies fellowships), pursue policy-related careers in the private sector or at all levels of government, serve as staff scientists, analysts, or administrators in non-government organizations (NGOs), or continue as research scientists able to more effectively contribute to the S&T policy process. 

The Pathway is co-directed by Dr. Scott Steele, Director of Regulatory Science Programs, Director of Government and Academic Research Alliances and Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences, and Dr. Katrina Korfmacher, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Director of Community Outreach and Engagement in the Environmental Health Sciences Center. Dr. Korfmacher is a policy scientist who has focused for the last 12 years on promoting the effective use of science in local, state, and national environmental health decisions, while Dr. Steele has over 10 years' experience in Science and Technology policy, development, and analysis, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Learn more about the Science and Technology Pathway.

View activities that can help you explore this pathway.

Discuss ideas you have about gaining experience in the Science and Technology Pathway with Dr. Katrina Korfmacher and Dr. Scott Steele

Regulatory Science and Personalized Medicine Track

Regulatory Science has been defined by the U.S. FDA as the science of developing new tools, standards and approaches to assess the safety, efficacy, quality and performance of FDA-regulated products. This involves novel research, policies and approaches that might improve upon the current regulations. Regulatory Science and translational research have shared goals to develop tools/approaches to keep pace with emerging technologies, such as Personalized Medicine, while reducing the cost and increasing the success rate of safe and effective products that benefit patients. Participants interested in the Regulatory Science and Personalized Medicine Track will learn key competencies in Regulatory Science and Personalized Medicine through internships and experiential opportunities that prepare them for careers at the FDA, NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmaceutical and medical device industry, academic institutions and a range of other government agencies and NGOs. This track involves close collaborations with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), leveraging the CTSI Regulatory Science Programs. This includes specific programs developed with the FDA and Critical Path Institute for internships and other training and career development opportunities.

Science and Security Track

A number of important and timely policy issues lay at the intersection of science and security, where scientists can have a critical role in enhancing national and international security. This track will allow trainees to gain a better understanding of these key issues and develop the skills to better address national and international security issues, from public health preparedness and medical counter measures development to counter proliferation and emergency response policies. This will include particular exposure to potential opportunities at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Defense (DoD), CDC, NIH, NGOs, and AAAS.

Public Health Policy Track

Scientists, decision makers, and interest groups generally agree that public policy should be based on sound science. Doing so, however, requires active participation by scientists in all aspects of the policy making process. This track will prepare students interested in public health issues to be effective contributors to better science-based decision making. Training opportunities will build on the URMC’s strong foundation of engagement in public policy making in the areas of health outcomes, environmental health, occupational health, and health impact assessment. This track will prepare students for careers in government and public health agencies (local, state and federal), the FDA, advocacy and non-profit groups (including community-based organizations), education and outreach groups, and private sector organizations interested in improving S&T policy and decision-making.

Explore the Science and Technology Pathway

Develop a Science and Security Proposal. Trainees will have the opportunity to identify and research a critical science and security issue and then work with a team of advisors to develop and refine their proposal. Dr. Steele will coordinate the project, in collaboration with advisors from AAAS, DHS, RAND and UR’s IBC. For more information, contact Dr. Scott Steele

Develop a Public Health Policy Initiative. Trainees will have the opportunity to identify and research a critical public health policy issue. These projects will build on UR’s strong connections with local, state, and federal policy making related to environmental, occupational, and other public health issues. Projects may involve applied data analyses, summaries of relevant science, policy memos or briefs, and legislative research. The trainee will present their initiative project to their client agency, official, or group as appropriate. For more information, contact Dr. Katrina Korfmacher or  Dr. Scott Steele

Attend City Council and County Legislature Sessions. Work with Dr. Katrina Korfmacher to identify opportunities to attend City Council and County legislature sessions related to public health policy. These sessions will provide the trainee experience with local implementation and oversight of health policy.

Submit an entry to the America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent Student Competition

Learn more about careers in Science and Technology Policy by conducting informational interviews with experts from Department of Homeland Security and Personalized Medicine Coalition. For more information, contact Dr. Scott Steele

Work with the UR Institutional Biosafety Committee to learn more about Science and Technology Policy applied to biosecurity and research with dual-use potential. For more information, contact Dr. Scott Steele

Attend a course on the topic – or even a lecture or two.

  • (Spring) PM 487 Fundamentals of Science, Technology and Health Policy Instructor: Scott Steele, PhD (2 credits), Science and Technology (S&T) continues to be an area of significant focus to drive innovation, improve public health and enhance national security in the U.S. and across the globe. This interactive course offers students exposure to the interaction between S&T and public policy, particularly exploring the role and impact of the Federal government in this process. Students will also have the opportunity to explore roles for scientists in the policy making process, while gaining the ability to objectively analyze S&T policy issues and develop skills to provide policy recommendations and write policy memos. Some assignments will be tailored to individual students’ policy interests and may be reviewed by the course instructor as well as consultants directly familiar with the issue. Note: This class is broadly designed for students both in the basic and applied sciences interested in the S&T policy process, as well as students focused on public health related policy issues.
  • (Fall) PM 445 Introduction to Health Services Research and Policy, Instructor: James Dolan, MD (3 credits), This course will provide a hands-on introduction to field of health services and policy research. We will review the nature and scope of health services and policy research, learn about organizational and systems theories, compare different conceptual frameworks for guiding health services and policy research, and discuss research studies addressing current topics of interest including: health system planning and policy, effectiveness and quality of care, equity of care/disparities research. Extensive use will be made of a hypothetical new country with a health system similar to that of the United States that will serve as our research “lab.” Upon completion of this course, students will: 1) be familiar with the multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted nature of health services and policy research; 2) have a basic understanding of systems research and organizational theories; and 3) have an understanding of the HRS research methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages. Prerequisites: None.