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Dr. Hopewell: Changing Directions Can Lead to the Right Path

Emily HopewellIn 2003, Emily Hopewell, PhD, started her career at Moffitt Cancer Center as a Medical Technologist Specialist in the Cell Therapy Facility (CTF) manufacturing cellular products for clinical trials. She was accepted into the Cancer Biology PhD Program in 2005 and joined the lab of Dr. Amer Beg. During this time, Dr. Hopewell learned how to design and develop experiments. "My time as a graduate student taught me how to focus on the big picture and propelled my career in the CTF," said Dr. Hopewell.

After completing her PhD, Dr. Hopewell returned to the CTF and rose through the ranks to become the Assistant Technical Director. While there, she worked with investigators to scale up and implement manufacturing of cellular products and prepare numerous regulatory documents in preparation for clinical trials. She also organized proposals for the Production Assistance for Cellular Therapy initiative, a funded resource from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that was awarded to Dr. Linda Kelley here at Moffitt. "These two experiences were instrumental in landing my current position," Dr. Hopewell stated.

Following her time at Moffitt, Dr. Hopewell was recruited to the Indiana University School of Medicine and accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical and Molecular Genetics and as the Director of Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing. She is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction related to education, research and clinical missions within Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing. She also oversees development efforts through clinical production of cell and gene therapies for ultimate use in patients.

Dr. Hopewell looks back on her time at Moffitt fondly and appreciates all of the opportunities provided to her during that time. "Moffitt provided excellent opportunities for staff to develop leadership skills through Organizational Development. Those opportunities provided a solid foundation that landed me in a leadership role with my first faculty appointment," said Dr. Hopewell. One additional opportunity she had at Moffitt was to become a member of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy and the American Association of Blood Banks. She said, "Joining these societies has greatly expanded my professional network and built my national reputation."

Dr. Hopewell is a founding member of the Early Stage Professionals (ESP) committee at the International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT) and developed a mentoring program connecting ESP members with leaders in the field. The mentoring program was established in 2017 and now has over 70 mentees and 30 mentors, canvasing 25 countries. She was also elected as the Global Treasurer of ISCT in 2020 and is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Management Committee. Dr. Hopewell chairs the Regulatory Committee for the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) and represents SITC at the annual Cell Therapy Liaison Meeting with the Food and Drug Administration. This kind of involvement provides an extraordinary opportunity to drive progress in the field.

As someone who pursued numerous opportunities herself, Dr. Hopewell strongly encourages all trainees to take advantage of opportunities that are presented, particularly ones that can expand their network and stretch their skills. Also – she wants everyone to know it’s okay to change direction. "Most of my career path has been built on changes," said Dr. Hopewell, "I started out as a Medical Technologist and wanted to do something more. I completed my PhD and knew that I did not want to run my own research lab and I used the skills I learned as a graduate student to build a career that keeps me motivated and excited. There are multiple paths that you can choose, so try to keep an open mind and be willing to look for something that you truly love."