FelCom: Getting the Most Out of Your NIH Training Experience

An Interview with FelCom Co-Chairs: Kenneth E. Remy, M.D., and Lucie A. Low, Ph.D.

BY PATRICIA FORCINITO (NIDCR) AND WENDY KNOSP (NIDCR)

Ken Remy and Lucie Low

PHOTO BY WENDY KNOSP, NIDCR

FelCom co-chairs Ken Remy (left) and Lucie Low are enthusiastic about what FelCom can do for fellows.

This year, the Fellows’ Committee (FelCom) is run by co-chairs Kenneth E. Remy and Lucie A. Low, who respectively represent the clinical- and basic-science fellows. Remy arrived at the NIH in 2011 as an adult-critical-care clinical fellow after completing a three-year pediatric-critical-care fellowship at Columbia University (New York) with a research interest in sepsis. His leadership experience as president of the National Internal Medicine–Pediatrics Residents’ Association made him a natural choice for the Clinical FelCom co-chair position to which he was elected in 2012.

Low came to the NIH in 2012 as a visiting fellow at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, where she studies the neuroscience of chronic pain. She has a strong background in leadership and communications and was the vice president of finance for the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars as well as a Nature magazine careers columnist (2011–2012). Shortly after her arrival at the NIH, Low was elected as the FelCom Basic Science co-chair.

The NIH Catalyst interviewed Remy and Low recently. The following is a lightly edited transcript of their remarks.


What qualities and skills does a FelCom co-chair need to be successful?

KR: You need to be able to advocate for yourself as well as for all NIH fellows in an appropriate manner. To be successful you must think critically, take initiative, effectively communicate your innovative ideas, and be a team player.
LL: Success requires good organizational and communication skills and the ability to be a good listener. It is important to advocate for yourself and for the group you represent with appropriate initiative and tact.

Why should fellows join FelCom?

LL: FelCom is the voice of the fellows. If you don’t get involved and speak up, nothing will change or improve. FelCom has the power to get attention and be heard as we advocate for fellows’ rights. Here you will find people who can help you get what you need. If you get involved, you will gain transferrable and marketable skills to help you in your next career move.
KR: FelCom represents over 3,000 fellows at the NIH who are on the front lines of performing cutting-edge experiments and high-quality patient care and who are also able to identify areas for improvement in these endeavors to improve the health of the country. FelCom provides opportunities for clinical- and basic-science fellows to interact, bringing bench science and patient care together, allowing for the cross-pollination of ideas, and making exciting discoveries. FelCom provides a unique opportunity to enhance your NIH experience and take an active role in helping improve the system.

What are your next career steps?

KR: I plan to pursue my research interests in red-blood-cell “storage lesion” (deterioration in red blood cells during storage), host response, and sepsis. I want to continue as a physician–scientist in an academic medical center and do research, practice adult- and pediatric-critical-care, and teach.
LL: I’m still exploring my options and facing the inevitable conundrum of deciding whether to attempt to get a faculty position and continue doing the research I love, or to pursue other options.

Do you have any advice for new fellows?

LL: Speak up; get involved; make your training experience what you want it to be. FelCom has a lot of resources to help you and point you in the right direction.
KR: Explore and meet folks outside of your lab. Consider having a few advisors to help you along your desired career path. Get involved! The NIH is bountiful with programs—don’t get overextended but pick a few items that will help your mind expand further.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

LL: I’m a member of the NIH Sailing Association, I go skydiving every weekend, and I am training for “Tough Mudders” obstacle races. I enjoy challenges!
KR: I am happily married with a two-year-old daughter and twins on the way. If I had more time I would play music, act (I love being on stage), dress as a clown and visit hospital patients, play sports, do another medical mission (I am the ICU captain for Heart Care International and travel twice a year to Peru), or get more involved in my church.

Is there anything about you that would surprise people?

LL: I used to be a semiprofessional singer. If I weren’t a scientist, I’d like to be a Ninja or an astronaut.
KR: I was an actor and musician in a former life and founded a very successful organization called Clowns for Medicine.


 


MORE ABOUT LOW AND REMY

LUCIE LOW, PH.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

EDUCATION: Magdalen College, University of Oxford, U.K. (B.A. in physiology with psychology); University College of London, U.K. (Ph.D. and M.Sc. in neuroscience)
TRAINING: Postdoctoral training in NCCAM in the laboratory of Scientific Director, Catherine Bushnell (Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Laboratory)
CAME TO NIH: In 2010
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Neuroscience of chronic pain; impact of pain upon cognition; alleviation of chronic neuropathic pain by environmental enrichment
SELECTED OTHER ACTIVITIES: Basic Science Co-Chair of the NIH Fellows Committee; organizer of NIH Pain scientific interest group seminar series; NCCAM’s scientist-in-residence for the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival; “Genome Geek” volunteer, Smithsonian Museum for Natural History


KENNETH REMY, M.D.

Critical Care Medicine Clinical Fellow
Critical Care Medicine Department
NIH Clinical Center

EDUCATION: University of Delaware, Newark, Del. (B.S. in biology with chemistry minor; B.A. in liberal studies with medical humanities minor); Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia (M.D.); Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. (M.H.S. in clinical research, pending)
TRAINING: Residency in internal medicine and pediatrics, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Case Medical Center, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital (Cleveland); fellowship in pediatric critical care, Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons/New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York); fellowship in adult critical care, NIH
CAME TO NIH: In 2011
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Sepsis and blood-transfusion-related storage lesion; mechanisms and methods to overcome metabolic derangement; anthrax sepsis and novel therapeutics
SELECTED ACTIVITIES: Assistant professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore); Clinical Fellows Co-Chair of the NIH Fellows Committee