Torrey Pines Leadership Development Program at SBP

August 2018 - June 2019

This premier leadership development program at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) 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
  • Create your Individual Leadership Development Plan

Program Outline

    Understanding Yourself

  • Module 1: Who is a Leader? Understanding Your Unique Value - Part 1
  • Module 2: Understanding Your Unique Value - Part 2
  • Module 3: Understanding Your Unique Value - Part 3
  • Understanding Others

  • Module 4: Understanding the Unique Value of Others
  • Module 5: Communication and Conflict Management
  • Module 6: Building Better Relationships
  • Developing as a Leader

  • Module 7: Building a Highly Effective Team
  • Module 8: Understanding your impact as a Leader
  • Module 9: Building Collaborative Alliances and Emerging as a Leader
  • Module 10: Creating Your Individual Leadership Development Plan

  • Module 11: Program Finale


The 2018-2019 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) 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 of the Office of Education, Training, & International Services (OETIS) at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) in La Jolla, CA. In this position Diane oversees scientific career education and professional development programs for SBP’s graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, participates in institute-wide efforts in strategic planning with respect to education and training initiatives, and serves as an advisor to executive leadership on education and training policy.

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. Outside the lab, Diane served as a member and chair of the NIEHS Trainees Assembly Steering Committee, and was a member and chair of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) policy committee. She subsequently served as a member and chair of the NPA Board of Directors, and she remains active with the NPA as a member of the NPA Advisors. Diane recently served on the NIH study sections for the NIH BEST Award program, and she is currently a member of the NIH BEST Award External Scientific Panel of advisors. In addition to her research education, Diane is a certified DiSC® facilitator, was a member of the inaugural NIEHS Leadership Development Program, and is currently pursuing a Mindful Executive Certificate.

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.

Nisha Cavanaugh, PhD
Manager, Postdoctoral & Academic Programs

Dr. Nisha Cavanaugh is the Manager of Postdoctoral and Academic Programs, within SBP's OETIS. In this role, Nisha oversees the administration of career and professional development programming for SBP postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. Additionally, she collaborates with OETIS staff and with the SBP Science Network to design new professional development workshops, programs and opportunities to enhance the postdoctoral experience at SBP.

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. Prior to joining the OETIS staff, she was the Director of NC State University’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Virginia (Ginger) Hazen, PhD
Professional Development Coordinator

Virginia (Ginger) Hazen attained her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California and then began a postdoctoral fellowship at UC San Diego. Ginger studied the development of mammalian spinal neurons during her scientific training. Throughout her training, she also participated in student government, career development and outreach programs that ultimately led her to pursue a career path in professional development. She became the professional development coordinator in 2013, a newly created position at UC San Diego. Ginger developed, implemented and now manages the professional development training curriculum called Explore, Prepare, Innovate, Connect (EPIC) Program for postdocs that addresses the individual and holistic needs of the 1200+ postdocs at UC San Diego. She is also the advisor to the Postdoctoral Association and provides individual career advising for postdocs. Ginger is dedicated to the advancement of postdocs through career development by empowering highly capable, educated and qualified individuals to contribute to the diverse global workforce through self-evaluation, preparation and community.

You can contact us at!

Letizia Amadini-Lane, Pharm.D.

Letizia Amadini-Lane, Pharm.D., is Vice President, Strategic Alliances and oversees key partnerships to maximize value to SBP and lead transformational initiatives within business development that align individuals, teams, and partners to deliver organizational goals.

Prior to joining SBP, Amadini-Lane spent 15 years at GSK, most recently as Vice President/Global Head, Employee Value Proposition where she led strategic planning and implementation to build engagement and sustain enterprise-wide alignment. In previous vice president positions, she established the Center of Excellence and best practices in global business development for the R&D product pipeline and was responsible for early- and late-stage collaborations.

Earlier in her career, Amadini-Lane served as a pharmaceutical consultant to international public health care organizations and was an executive at Fidia Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Amadini-Lane received her Doctor of Pharmacy from University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy, a Master in Herbal Medicine from University of Urbino, and she is an Executive Coach certified ICF (International Coaching Federation).

Sean Mitton

Sean Mitton graduated from the University of New Brunswick in Canada with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and Minor in Psychology. He founded the Canadian Expat Network, authored a book on hockey, and has been interviewed by a number of media outlets. Currently, he is a Software Account Executive in the Healthcare Industry.

His professional experience includes the creation of over 500 Mind Maps to stay focused, organized, manage his time effectively, and think strategically. He has used mind maps to prepare for interviews with entertainers, business people, government officials and several well-known sports figures including Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby. Sean has delivered professional development Mind Map workshops at NC State, NC Community College Conference and Wake County Libraries. He created an online Mind Map course with over a thousand students and has partnered with a High School Robotics Club on how to use Mind Mapping to prepare for contests.

Karen Peterson, PhD

Dr. Karen Peterson is the Scientific Ombudsman and Director of the Office of Scientific Career Development at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch) in Seattle, Washington. She is the Co-Chair of the Program Committee for the Northwest Ombuds Group (NWOG). In addition, she is the author of the Nature Guide to Life Science Careers and a former member of the Board of Directors and Advisory Council for the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). At the Fred Hutch, Dr. Peterson is the advisor to the Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee, which provides professional development for scientists-in-training, and a member of the advisory committee to Hutch United, which facilitates mentoring to underrepresented minorities in science. She is also a member of the Fred Hutch Diversity Council and Research Ethics Education Committee.

Dr. Peterson received a Bachelor's in Genetics from UC Berkeley and a PhD in Experimental Medicine from McGill University. She was a postdoctoral fellow conducting research at the Fred Hutch before making a career transition into administration. She is often interviewed about research training issues and has been quoted in journals such as Nature and Science.

Ryan Wheeler, MA

Ryan Wheeler is Director of Career, International, and Postdoctoral Services at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). He received his Bachelor’s from the University of Washington and a Master’s degree in postsecondary education administration from San Diego State University. He is the founding administrator for TSRI’s Career and Postdoctoral Services Office, and oversees professional development training initiatives, international student and scholar services, and career advising for hundreds of postdoctoral researchers and graduate students in La Jolla, CA and Jupiter, FL. Prior to his current role, he worked in the Office of Admissions at the University of Washington and in the Career Services Center at the University of California, San Diego. He is an active member of the National Postdoctoral Association and the Graduate Career Consortium, and has given professional development workshops at institutions and professional meetings around the US.


You MUST be an SBP Graduate Student OR a Postdoctoral Scholar/Staff Scientist/Research Assistant Professor at one of five institutions: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), 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. 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?
  • Acknowledge that you will participate in the program fully (attendance will be required for every module and completion of all assignments and projects)
  • Program cost ($120) covers assessments and all program materials (to be paid only if you are accepted into program).
Applications are now closed for the 2018-2019 program. Check back soon for more information about next year's program!
Contact us at if you have any questions.

Deadlines & Important Dates:

  • Week of July 23, 2018: Applicants will be notified if accepted into program
  • Monday, July 27, 2018: Deadline for participants to pay program fee
  • Friday, August 24, 2018: Torrey Pines Leadership Program begins