Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Baltimore, MD, USA
Research interests: infertility, endocrinology of reproduction
Donna Vogel earned an A.B. in Chemistry from Bryn Mawr College in 1971. She completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, in 1977. Her Ph.D. is in developmental biology, and her clinical subspecialty is endocrinology. In 1980 she came to NIH as a clinical fellow in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, conducting clinical and basic research relating to infertility and reproductive medicine. She moved to the extramural program in 1987 to manage the Reproductive Medicine portfolio, and worked as a program director for 13 years in positions of increasing responsibility. In 2001, Dr. Vogel moved to the National Cancer Institute as the first Director of its Fellowship Office, dedicated to enhancing the professional experience for postdoctoral fellows. She retired from federal service in 2005, becoming Deputy Director of the Ellison Medical Foundation. Since 2007, she has been Director of the Professional Development Office of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The Office provides courses, workshops, and guidance on transitioning to independent careers in science. Dr. Vogel teaches and advises students, fellows and early-career faculty in the Schools of Medicine, Public Health and Nursing. She has organized many workshops, published research and administrative papers and book chapters, and has received awards from NICHD, the US Public Health Service, professional societies, and community groups.
A member of ASA since 1983, Dr. Vogel is a Past President of the Society (2012-2013). She has served on the Executive Council (2002-2005) and several committees. These include Awards, 1993-1994; Student Affairs, 1993-96, Nominating, 1997-98 and 2012-13 (Chair, 1998 and 2013); Constitution and Bylaws (Chair), 2004-2006; Membership, 2002-2011; and Trainee Affairs, 2003-present. She was Chair of Women in Andrology, 1994-96.
Q: How was your interest in field of andrology developed?
Dr. Vogel: My PhD was in embryology. One day in 1973, as a grad student, I asked myself how I wanted to save the world, and decided it was between population and nutrition. From there, it led to wanting to invent the perfect male contraceptive. I thus became interested in the hormonal control of male fertility. This was the focus of my postdoc, a combination of clinical and basic research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.
Q: Tell us about the work that you are most proud of.
Dr. Vogel: Using my knowledge and experience to help our next generation of scientists launch and thrive in their careers – initially as a program officer at NIH, and more recently in my current position.
Q: Describe your typical day at work.
Dr. Vogel: Drink coffee and answer email. I may teach a class or give a workshop. I’m almost always planning an upcoming event. Go to the gym. Meet with my staff, colleagues or committees, advise 1-2 students or postdocs with career questions, critique an application or other piece of writing. Build networks and relationships.
Q: What is the key to success in the field of andrology, given the impact of recession/lack of grants?
Dr. Vogel: Get good advice, not just any advice, and keep trying, if research is what you really want. Persistence pays. Network furiously. Learn to write and present well, if these do not come naturally. You may have brilliant ideas, but without communication skills, reviewers will not know it. There are many paths to success. Diverse career options can be hugely satisfying.
Q: What has been the impact of the ASA membership in your career?
Dr. Vogel: ASA has given me the opportunity to contribute to the field on an international scale. I have been able to attain leadership positions even though I no longer see patients or do hands-on research. I have made some wonderful friends in ASA, both longstanding and new. The meetings are a great way to meet and encourage students and fellows who are excited about their work and their future.
Q: One advice you would like to give to students entering in this field.
Dr. Vogel: Talk to people even if they seem intimidating. We more established members are here because we want to meet you. There is no connection like a personal connection. Especially today in the electronic age, there is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation that could have an impact on your work and future career.
Q: Any other comments.
Dr. Vogel: ASA is a very special society. I wrote about this in the application for our NIH conference grant: “With its manageable size and diversity of interests, the meeting is a rich marketplace of ideas, discussions, collaborations, and opportunities for training and employment. Innovation in science comes from bringing concepts and approaches together in new ways. Our meeting provides these interactions. A vibrant and diverse biomedical workforce comes from exposing students and trainees to investigators doing cutting-edge research. Our meeting provides these introductions. As scientists, we produce not only data, but also our next generation.”