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Charles Clancy, a chief futurist at The MITRE Corporation, presented the Black Engineer – Most Promising Scientist Award to Dr. Janelle Rowell, a senior biotechnologist in MITRE’s emerging technologies innovation center, during the BEYA STEM Conference held February.

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Clancy said that Janelle has only been with MITRE for two years, yet has played an instrumental role in supporting the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its office of external research.

Janelle and her team created a series of regulatory knowledge guides. Program officers and innovators from across NIH’s 24 institutes and centers depend on these guides to navigate the regulatory environment. This guidance has the potential to transform how life scientists develop and transition their innovations from the laboratory to the market.

Accepting the award,  Janelle said her curiosity was nurtured by a supportive family. A distant relative responded to her delight in discovery by providing an ongoing subscription to the National Geographic magazine. Her mother and grandmother accompanied her on countless trips to the library, where she loved to learn about the world.

“My decision to become a scientist was sparked by my curiosity and desire to understand human disease and identify potential therapies that can directly impact my family and community,” she continued. “I am here, a descendant of sharecroppers and informally-educated professionals; each day, seeking to honor the legacy of sacrifice and perseverance in the work that I do.”

After earning a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular medicine, Janelle served in the Food and Drug Administration’s ORISE STEM fellowship program. She helped assess the performance of a candidate universal influenza vaccine in mouse models of prior immune history.

In MITRE’s Emerging Technologies Innovation Center, she leads efforts to support the NIH in the regulatory requirements of early-stage medical technologies and products. Her initiative has helped establish NIH as a reliable source that supports the innovator community, and advance MITRE’s work for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

“Since Janelle joined us three years ago, she quickly established herself as an indispensable member of the MITRE team. With her impressive and growing list of accomplishments, Dr. Rowell demonstrates the boundless potential for future scientific contributions,” said Dr. Jason Providakes of The MITRE Corporation.

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