Founder of School’s Office of Research Career Development (RCD) Steps Down After Fourteen Years of Service as a ‘Tireless Force for Good’
University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Vice Dean for Academic Affairs James Kaper, PhD, along with UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced that Wendy W. Sanders, MA, Associate Dean for Research Career Development and Instructor in Epidemiology & Public Health, will be retiring form her post on August 31, 2020.
Ms. Sanders, who is Founding Director of the Office of Research Career Development (RCD), was the principal architect and leader of UMSOM’s full array of innovative, full-cycle career development programs for faculty over the past 14 years. These included courses, workshops, seminars, programs, and other resources to develop skills in effective grant writing, scientific communication, and scientific leadership, as well as one-on-one consultations in areas critical to academic research. While her office has assisted UMSOM faculty throughout their career progression, Ms. Sanders always has placed a special emphasis in nurturing the research activities of early stage faculty.
“Wendy was one of my first recruits as Dean,” said Dean Reece, who is also Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “We agreed to launch the RCD as an experiment, in large part due to Wendy’s compelling vision for the program and her magnetic personality. She is one of those truly exceptional individuals whose keen intelligence and passion for excellence informs her efforts at every step. One can directly tie her outstanding leadership at RCD to the remarkable series of research successes that our faculty continue to achieve. It has been particularly gratifying to have witnessed Wendy’s progress over the years in making the RCD the highly valuable asset it is today to our school. She is a tremendous colleague and highly respected by all of our faculty. She will be greatly missed, and the entire UMSOM community wishes her great happiness in her well-deserved retirement,” he added.
Dr. Kaper, who is also Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, agrees. “Wendy Sanders has made numerous contributions to the development of our junior faculty,” he said. “She also has been very creative in developing new programs such as the Scientific Leadership Program. So many of our faculty have been the direct beneficiaries of Wendy’s skills and passion for teaching and improving their chances for obtaining grant funding. I have really enjoyed working with her and will miss her greatly when she takes her well-earned retirement.”
L to R: Wendy Sanders, MA; Marey Shriver, PhD; Mary-Claire Roghmann, MD, MS; and Stacie Mendoza
Praise from RCD Colleagues
Ms. Sanders’ colleagues in the Office of Research Career Development expressed high praise for her thoughtful direction. “Wendy will be deeply missed by all who worked with her, particularly junior faculty,” noted Mary-Claire Roghmann, MD, MS, Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health, Associate Program Director for Research Career Development, and Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Training. “She has been a fierce advocate for faculty, helping to guide them through difficult situations while keeping their best interests at heart.”
RCD Program Director Stacie Mendoza, BS, has worked closely with Ms. Sanders for 15 years. “Wendy has been a phenomenal leader of our program and a major force behind the success of many careers at the UMSOM. Through her compassionate support and devotion to helping others succeed, she is a true inspiration. The legacy Wendy leaves behind at UMSOM will be cherished for many years to come. Working with her has been a blessing, and I will miss her deeply,” she said.
The newest member of the office, RCD Director Marey Shriver, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, also has been highly impressed with Ms. Sanders’ direction. “Her dedication to supporting junior faculty within the School of Medicine has been incredibly inspiring,” she said. “She always has been attuned to the needs of junior faculty, and this ability has allowed her to fully support them and help them overcome any challenges they have faced during their research careers.”
Kudos from Faculty
As word of Ms. Sanders’ retirement reached UMSOM’s faculty, many stepped forward to express their gratitude and admiration.
“Wendy’s passion and ability to develop leaders in research is unparalleled. She has assured that the University of Maryland School of Medicine will be very successful in the years ahead because her team and she have prepared a pipeline of research leaders who will ably elevate our institution to higher heights. I am personally thankful for her vision and will miss her dearly.”
Rodney J. Taylor, MD, MPH
Otorhinolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery
University of Maryland School of Medicine
“Wendy Sanders has helped countless junior faculty members launch their research careers and, after funding, has been a tireless and passionate advocate their continued success. She has been a mentoring model for senior faculty members. As the heart and soul of the Research Career Development Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Wendy will be sorely missed.”
Steven J. Kittner, MD, MPH
Professor of Neurology
“Wendy has been a tireless force for good. Her north star was what is best for the junior faculty she was mentoring, be it at the individual level or systemic change at the institution. She leaves us better than she found us, and her impact lives on in the many careers she transformed.”
Margaret M McCarthy, PhD
James and Carolyn Frenkil Dean’s Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology
Director for the Program in Neuroscience (PIN)
“Wendy Sanders has been a champion for fostering career development and increasing research efforts among UMB faculty and her passion, perseverance, and innovation has contributed to the success of the research career development program. She has been one of my trusted UMSOM colleagues for whom I have turned to for advice, my own mentoring, and for brainstorming important issues. I, and many of those who have trained with me, have personally benefited from her dedication and wisdom; her legacy will continue for years to come.”
Deanna L. Kelly, PharmD, BCPP
Professor of Psychiatry
Director of the Treatment Research Program,
the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC)
Members of UMSOM’s junior faculty also offered their thanks.
“Wendy Sanders is a priceless gem who will be missed dearly. She created an environment within UMSOM for innovation, scholarship, and professional development, guided by her amazing ability to bring focus and enhance the strength and significance of countless specific aims and scientific works (no matter the subject), as well as the individuals behind those endeavors.”
Shana O. Ntiri, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine
“Wendy Sanders is uniquely gifted in working with us junior faculty members – her care, listening ear, teaching, cheerleading, rounds-and-rounds of grant edits, and just plain fun disposition! I am incredibly grateful to have learned from her over the last several years. Her guidance and leadership played an instrumental role in helping me take the first few steps in my research career here at Maryland.”
Stephanie H. Chen, MD, MS
Assistant Professor of Neurology,
Maryland Epilepsy Center
“Wendy's tireless dedication to me and so many other UMB faculty members has played a tremendous part in our success stories. I am so grateful to not only have benefitted from her expertise, but also to know her as a person. The world needs more inspirational people like Wendy.”
Erin E. O'Connor, MD
Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
Educator, Mentor—and Figure Skater
Ms. Sanders has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the academic medical community. After earning her BA at Oberlin College in Language and Literature, followed by an MA in Russian Studies from the University of Michigan, she initially worked as a medical writer, after briefly considering a career as a professional ice skater in the Ice Follies. In 1989, she joined Johns Hopkins Medicine, which eventually led to her founding that school’s professional development office, which served all graduate and postdoctoral students at the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing.
In accepting Dean Reece’s offer to join the UMSOM in 2006, Ms. Sanders says that she was most attracted by the opportunity to mentor junior faculty. “Even back then, attaining research funding was becoming difficult for junior faculty,” she recalled. “Having the opportunity to watch them grow, develop, and succeed has by far been my greatest source of pride.”
However, a new welcome challenge awaits her. Ms. Sanders is stepping down to take up a new role with her husband as grandparents to three grandsons, all born within the last six months. “It would have taken something really monumental to make me want to retire from this position, and this was it,” she said.
“My life has been a series of lucky breaks, with my job at the UMSOM being the best by far,” she said. “I will be forever grateful to be recruited to the School of Medicine by Dean Reece. Both he and my supervisor Dr. Kaper have given me enormous latitude to develop new programming that I thought would be helpful to our faculty. That has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my position. I thank them both, as well as my talented RCD colleagues, and of course, the UMSOM faculty.”
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 45 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has more than $540 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 student trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu