Recent Lasker Lessons in Leadership Lecture Featured Keynote Speaker Dr. Linda Fried

What does scientific leadership through communication look like? What advice would you give to young scientists in order to improve their communication skills with fellow researchers and the general public? What advice would you give specifically to female scientists to develop their leadership and communication skills in order to be heard?  These are some of the difficult questions that Dean Linda Fried, MD, MPH, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health tackled on January 14, 2016. Dr. Fried served as the keynote speaker at the third Lasker Lessons in Leadership lecture held on the main campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Fried is a leader in the fields of epidemiology and geriatrics who has dedicated her lengthy career to the science of healthy aging and understanding the transition to a world where greater longevity benefits people of all ages. An internationally renowned scientist, she has done influential work in defining frailty as a medical condition, examining its causes, and educating society on the potential for prevention to maximize health for older adults. Under Fried’s leadership, the Mailman School continues to be a groundbreaking institution in transforming the health of populations and is one of the top five NIH-funded schools of public health.

Dean Fried opened her lecture in quoting renowned historian David McCullough: “We need leaders, and not just political leaders. We need leaders in every field, in every institution, in all kinds of situations. We need to be educating our young people to be leaders. And unfortunately, that’s fallen out of fashion.” Dr. Fried went on to articulated her three-point thesis on what leadership has looked like in her career as a scientist, clinician, and public health servant. She pointed out to the trainees that “leadership is developed at every single stage of what you do.” She impressed upon the trainees that communicating the importance of what you do, to all constituents, in an effective and meaningful way, whether orally or in written form, is the point at which science becomes leadership through communication. Dr. Fried closed her talk by stating that “the bridge between science and leadership is communication,” and that “leaders inspire and motivate to a vision, mission, and excellence that enables us to change the world for the better through what we do.”

Following Dr. Fried’s talk, a mentor panel, consisting of Dr. Fried; Dr. Michele Hogan, Executive Director of the American Association of Immunologists; Dr. Linda Huynh, Scientific Writer/Editor in the Public Communications Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH; and Dr. Tom Wynn, Chief of the Immunopathogensis Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Disease at the NIAID and NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program director, held an interactive session, fielding questions from students present in the auditorium and via video cast for students attending remotely from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

In the afternoon, students had the opportunity to view a short video on effective communication tips and participate in a small group interactive assignment answering the question: “How would you explain your science to your friend, a car salesman, whom you have not seen in twenty years?” Members of the mentor panel, Dr. Fried, and NIH leadership served as small group facilitators, giving the students a chance to have additional and more focused mentoring time.

The Lasker Lessons in Leadership program is a collaborative effort developed in 2015 by the International Biomedical Research Alliance, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program. The goal is to help the next generation of physicians and scientists develop the leadership skills necessary to advance scientific discovery. The lectureship series include a formal curriculum addressing eight distinct career-relevant leadership topics aimed at postgraduate medical research students.  The program is also open to NIH graduate students on a limited basis and available for public viewing via the NIH video cast. The Lasker Lessons in Leadership series has been generously co-sponsored by WIRB-Copernicus Group (WCG), the world’s largest provider of regulatory and ethical solutions for clinical research, and Certara, a global biosimulation and regulatory writing company committed to optimizing drug development decisions.

The next Lasker Lessons in Leadership lecture will be held on March 31, 2016 on the main campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Craig Thompson, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, with mentor panel including/featuring Dr. John Niederhuber and Dr. Christina M. Annunziata.

For additional information regarding the Lasker Lessons in Leadership series, please contact Randi Balletta at


Dr. Linda Fried’s keynote address and the panel discussion video cast is archived at


Further information about the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program can be found at