Alyssa Siefert (PhD ’15, Engineering & Applied Science)

What did you study at Yale? What is your current profession/job?

I graduated from Yale in 2015 with PhD in Biomedical Engineering. I am currently a Clinical Data Analyst at Foresite Capital, a healthcare-dedicated venture capital and private equity firm.

What do you like most about your current role? What do you find most challenging and/or rewarding?

My favorite part of my job is that I am constantly learning about new disease biology, therapeutic modalities, and business strategies. At the same time, keeping up with the discussions is the greatest challenge since there is such a high volume of information being bandied around each minute. My other favorite part of my job is interacting with hundreds of companies and getting to learn about entrepreneurs’ passions. Perhaps the most rewarding part is the scale of the impact to which I contribute; if we can help get a new therapy to people in need, it could transform the lives of thousands or even millions of people.

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory?

In addition to the hard research skills that I gained during my PhD, my time at Yale gave me tons of exposures to different people, ideas, fields of study, and ways of thinking, and I think that exposure helped me to learn more quickly and appreciate all that I don’t know. The empathy gained from Yale’s diversity has helped me interact with many different people in my current role, ranging from leading academicians to patient advocacy group leaders to busy surgeons to investment bankers.

What are the main skills that you acquired as a GSAS student which help make you successful in your current career?

Each day, I apply many of the research skills required for a successful PhD: researching various topics, identifying gaps in current knowledge, writing up data discussions, speaking with key opinion leaders, and designing experiments that would help move a therapy closer to efficacy in humans. Additionally, as my role is mainly independent work, the motivation techniques and project ownership that I learned during my PhD help me immensely in my current job.

Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while in graduate school?

While I was in graduate school, I worked as a consultant for a preclinical company developing a novel therapeutic for peanut allergy, and that window into a startup has been helpful for benchmarking the companies that come across my desk today. Additionally, I took MBA courses at the School of Management through the engineering school’s Advanced Graduate Leadership Program (AGLP), which provided me a very useful foundation for the work I do today.

What advice would you offer GSAS students who are interested in your line of work?

Try to learn more about the field to see if it would be a good fit for you; the pace is quite different from academia. You can learn more by reaching out to people who work in these roles (like Yale alumni!), attending entrepreneurial events on campus (like the annual Yale CBIT Healthcare Hackathon), and even working on a translational project that may give you exposure to venture capitalists.