Torrey Pines Leadership Development Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys

August 2019 - June 2020

This premier leadership development program at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute is designed for early career PhDs on the Torrey Pines Mesa. In this program, participants will learn more about their leadership styles and preferences, and the leadership styles and preferences of others, towards understanding how they and their future teams can succeed. Certificates will be awarded to participants who complete all program requirements.

Learning Objectives

  • Become more aware of your leadership strengths and leadership style
  • Understand others' leadership styles and how to work with them for mutual benefit
  • Determine the strengths you have and how they align with your leadership style
  • Learn how to effectively communicate and manage conflict with your team
  • Learn how to build an effective team

Program Outline

    Understanding Yourself

  • Module 1: Who is a Leader? Understanding Your Unique Value - Part 1
  • Module 2: Understanding Your Unique Value - Part 2
  • Understanding Others

  • Module 3: Understanding the Unique Value of Others
  • Module 4: Understanding Conflict
  • Module 5: Communication as a Tool for Managing Challenges
  • Module 6: Communication as a Tool for Building Better Relationships
  • Developing as a Leader

  • Module 7: Emerging as a Leader - Understanding Your Impact & Gaining Support
  • Module 8: Building a Highly Effective Team - Part 1
  • Module 9: Building a Highly Effective Team - Part 2
  • Module 10: Maintaining a High Performing Team and Developing Future Leaders

  • Module 11: Program Finale


The 2019-2020 program cohort will include 30 postdoctoral scholars and advanced graduate students. Participants will attend classroom-style modules (4 hours each, Friday mornings starting at 9:00 am) on the Sanford Burnham Prebys cammpus every month, and engage in discussions and assigned projects in between modules. Participants will work in groups to develop a program project for presentation at the finale. See Program Timeline for more information.

Program Director
Diane Klotz, PhD
Director, SBP's Office of Education, Training, & International Services

Dr. Diane Klotz is Director, Office of Education, Training, & International Services and Associate Dean of Administration and Professional Development in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, CA. In these positions Diane oversees a team responsible for creating and delivering innovative programs to support the professional growth and complement the scientific education and training of Sanford Burnham Prebys’s graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. She also participates in institute-wide efforts in strategic planning with respect to education and training initiatives, serves as an advisor to faculty on education and training best practices, and consults to executive leadership on education and training policy. Additionally, Diane serves as an internal educator for Sanford Burnham Prebys on topics surrounding leadership and management development, team building, conflict, and interpersonal dynamics.

Diane received her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Tulane University, and pursued her postdoctoral research training at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, NIH). Diane’s research focused on cross-talk between steroid hormone receptor and growth factor signaling pathways in the female reproductive tract and the impact of environmental chemicals on these pathways. Outside the lab, Diane served as a member and chair of the NIEHS postdoctoral association, and was a member and chair of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Board of Directors, where she remains active as a member of the NPA Advisory Council. Diane recently served on the NIH study sections for the NIH Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) Award program, and she is currently a member of the NIH BEST External Scientific Panel of advisors.

Diane’s career path has been shaped by her observations of and experiences with how scientific organizations function and how scientific leaders strive to effect change and make progress. Her focus in the education and training of scientists at all levels and in all career paths is on helping scientists find their voices as high impact leaders who are able to guide their teams with compassion, clarity, vision, and intent. Diane has worked with academic labs, professional associations, and biotech companies towards developing high-performing teams and cultures that support them. Diane is a certified DiSC® facilitator, MBTI® practitioner, and has certificates for ADVANCED Training in Conflict Management from Kilmann Diagnostics and for Negotiation and Leadership from the Harvard Program on Negotiation.

Nisha Cavanaugh, PhD
Manager, Postdoctoral & Academic Programs

Dr. Nisha Cavanaugh is the Manager of Postdoctoral and Academic Programs, within Sanford Burnham Prebys' OETIS. In this role, Nisha is responsible for the portfolio of career and professional development programming for Sanford Burnham Prebys postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. Additionally, she collaborates with OETIS faculty and with the SBP Science Network to design new professional development workshops, programs and opportunities to enhance the postdoctoral experience at SBP. She completed ADVANCED Training in Conflict Management using the Thomas-Kilman Instrument as well as the Gallup Successful Strengths Coaching course.

Nisha received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she elucidated the primase-polymerase enzyme mechanism in Herpes Simplex Virus-1 DNA replication initiation. As a postdoc at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), she analyzed the structure-function relationship of DNA polymerase beta and the misincorporation of ribonucleotides during DNA repair. Her interest to encourage postdocs and graduate students to explore PhD career paths stems from her own postdoctoral experience and time spent as Chair of the NIEHS Trainees Assembly, the NIEHS postdoctoral association.

Andrew Bankston, PhD
Program Manager, Graduate School of Biomedical Science

Dr. Andrew Bankston is the Program Manager for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, CA. Andrew builds relationships with local institutions and companies to provide new training opportunities for their students/employees, create opportunities for Sanford Burnham Prebys students, and find the next group of talented SBP graduate students. He also provides one-on-one services to students in support of many aspects of their graduate careers and collaborates with other members of the OETIS team to help develop training workshops and programs specifically for SBP graduate students.

Andrew received his PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University where he uncovered new regulatory pathways regulating development of myelin in the brain. He then studied the role of autophagy in myelin development and repair at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center until joining Sanford Burnham Prebys in 2017. Through his involvement with the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), first as the Outreach Committee Chair and now as a member of the Board of Directors, Andrew deepened his interest in graduate student and postdoc training that began with his own training experience. His passion for mentoring and training of young scientists has always had a strong influence on his career path and is a large part of his current role.

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Jennifer Whitaker, CCP, PHRca

Jennifer Whitaker is the Director, Talent Management at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. In her role she oversees recruitment and onboarding, employee engagement, and employee learning and development initiatives. She has been with Sanford Burnham Prebys since 2016.

Prior to joining Sanford Burnham Prebys, Jen was at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois and served as Director, Human Resources for Northwestern Medical Group, the physician primary and specialty practice plan serving two counties and over 3500 physicians and staff. During her time at Northwestern Medicine, Jen led key integration and culture initiatives for the human resources function as the organization experienced tremendous growth and expansion through mergers, acquisitions and opening of new facilities.

Before moving to Chicago, Jen was a consultant with Waldron & Company, a boutique human resources consulting firm with offices on the west coast.

Jen graduated cum laude from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and Spanish. She is a Certified Compensation Professional and holds a Professional in Human Resources - California designation. She is certified in Crucial Conversations.

Andrew Ball, MS

Andy is an award-winning educator and learning expert with more than twenty years of experience helping individuals and groups do their best. He has an adult education credential from the University of Cambridge and a Master of Science in Learning and Change from Northwestern.

Andy leads the human design practice at Cognitive DESIGNLAB where he focuses on the social and psychological aspects of learning. He also utilizes design thinking to solve a variety of complex challenges at Cognitive DESIGNLAB and through work with the University of San Diego and IDEO U. He trusts that design thinking, when combined with an understanding of human perception, can create solutions to the most pressing social and work challenges. He has catalyzed start-up projects, technology implementations, school and curriculum innovation, and employee/student experience and engagement.

Andy is from England, has worked and studied in Japan, and lives in San Diego. If you are interested in learning more about yourself, more about others, and creating more inclusive experiences and solutions, Andy is happy to facilitate the inquiry process that will enable you to do so.


You MUST be a Sanford Burnham Prebys Graduate Student OR a Postdoctoral Scholar/Staff Scientist/Research Assistant Professor at one of five institutions: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla Institute For Allergy and Immunology (LJI), or the University of California San Diego. Sanford Burnham Prebys Graduate students MUST have passed their Qualifying Exam and be admitted to candidacy.

The program's cohort of peer emerging leaders will be committed to fully engage in all program activities and support their fellow participants.

Application Process:

To be accepted into the program, complete the application form in full. The parts of the application include:

  • General Demographic & Contact Information
  • Copy of CV (as a PDF file)
  • Statement (as a PDF file) that includes answers to:
    1. What is your motivation for participating in the SBP Leaders Program?
    2. What do you hope to gain from the SBP Leaders Program that will help you be successful immediately and in the future?
  • Acknowledgement that you will participate in the program fully (attendance will be required for every module and completion of all assignments and projects)
  • Program cost ($150) covers assessments and all program materials (to be paid only if you are accepted into program).
The deadline to apply for the 2019-2020 SBP Leaders Program has passed. Check back in 2020 to apply for next year’s program!

Contact us at if you have any questions.

Deadlines & Important Dates:

  • Monday, July 15, 2019: Application Deadline
  • Friday, July 26, 2019: Deadline for participants to pay program fee
  • Friday, August 23, 2019: Torrey Pines Leadership Development Program begins