MCI Youth Advisory Board member Meghana Reddy was accepted into the Emerging Leaders in Contraceptive Technology Innovation mentoring program, and shares her thoughts about the experience in this blog post.
Contraception is a field in healthcare that has been stigmatized for decades, even to this day. Although it is relevant to every individual’s life, it is something that is not widely talked about compared to other considered “mainstream” healthcare fields. To further raise awareness about the importance of contraception, new programs and innovations must be developed to highlight the opportunities that come from innovative research in family planning and reproduction.
FHI360, a nonprofit focused on human development and improving the lives of others through integrated solutions, has created a mentorship program dedicated to helping expand and strengthen the contraceptive research field. Emerging Leaders in Contraceptive Technology Innovation is a mentorship program that provides mentees with a mentor that educates them about their professional journeys and how contraceptive research and development (R&D) can be a viable career path. Mentees in this program are students and young professionals interested in contraception that come from all over the world. Mentors include scientists and physicians who are academics, donors, and industry professionals with multiple years of experience in the contraceptive research and development field. Not only does this program help mentees learn from individuals with a deep knowledge of contraceptive R&D, it also helps mentees learn more about the various intricacies with securing grants and funding, and formulating a creative research proposal. Mentors meet with mentees in a series of one-on-one meetings and group mentoring sessions over a 6 month timespan. Through mentorship and support, a new generation of contraceptive researchers can gain further advice on why it is important to participate and embolden the field of contraceptive research and development.
As a mentee in the Emerging Leaders in Contraceptive Technology Innovation program, I am excited to learn more about the steps to secure grants from various donors including foundations, NIH and USAID, why contraceptive research is even more important for new generations, and how contraceptive research can be used to help solve issues in low and middle-income countries. Specifically, I have been paired with Dr. Laneta Dorflinger, a Distinguished Scientist and Director of Product Development and Introduction at FHI 360. Personally, I am very grateful to have been paired with a strong and kind female leader in the field of contraceptive research and development; Dr. Dorflinger and I have already met twice over the past two months. Through these two meetings, I have been able to learn more about how to develop a grant, and the intricacies of the funding process. Additionally, Dr. Dorflinger has shared advice with me on her experience with obtaining a PhD. Recently, I graduated from Santa Clara University, and am currently preparing for medical school. I have considered obtaining a PhD as well in the field of health equity and women’s health, and am grateful to hear about Dr. Dorflinger’s experience; her advice has helped inform my own decision on whether I would like to pursue a PhD as well.
For future sessions, I hope to learn more about the difficulties and obstacles my mentor has overcome when securing funding, advice she wishes she knew before applying for grants, and more about significant events that have shaped her career. Overall, I am very grateful to have been accepted into this mentorship program, as it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more from distinguished scientists and witness the passion that the new generation has in the contraceptive field!