Featured Researcher: Alison Fitch - Bristol Myers Squibb
Director, Scientific Operations and Strategy Immuno-Oncology and Cell Therapy Thematic Research Center
Alison is director of scientific operations and strategy for the Immuno-Oncology and Cell Therapy (IO-CT) Thematic Research Center, overseeing a team that manages shared resource needs like budgeting and contracting for the research and early development teams at Bristol Myers Squibb’s Seattle site. She and her team are responsible for partnering with teams including strategic sourcing and procurement, legal, information technology, facilities, site and global product development and supply operations and environmental health and safety to enable scientists to focus on their innovative drug development research.
Alison also leads inclusion and diversity-focused STEM education and workforce engagement for the company in Washington and is a member of the STEM Council. When early efforts identified a need to engage with the Seattle community more directly, Alison felt that it was only natural to start giving back to the community that helped develop future generations of scientists by supporting STEM education outreach. Alison and her strong cadre of colleagues, interested in making a difference in STEM education, are consistently innovating how Bristol Myers Squibb can reach as many young people as possible, especially those who have been historically underrepresented in the scientific field.
In partnership with local institutions, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, she has organized career development networking events for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers since 2019. In 2020, called to action by the educational impacts of the pandemic, she and Wilbert Copeland of Informatics & Predictive Sciences partnered on a project with the Pacific Science Center to create a series of educational videos.
Alison joined Bristol Myers Squibb by way of Celgene in 2019. At Celgene, Alison oversaw external collaborations and led operations for the Seattle R&D site. Prior to Celgene, Alison worked at Theraclone Sciences, now OncoResponse, for nearly 10 years, where she negotiated contracts and developed international alliance relationships around the world, as well as having lab management responsibilities that she also held at Amgen and Abgenix.
Alison earned her MBA from Simon Fraser University with a specialization in the business of biotech; a bachelor’s degree in cell biology and genetics from the University of British Columbia and holds a patent for a novel composition of an antibody.
Interests and Expertise
Alison volunteers her time on the board of the Seattle chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). She sits on the banquet and awards committee, which involves soliciting nominations for the annual Seattle STEM awards from the community, reviewing and selecting the award recipients with a panel of fellow scientists and organizing all aspects of the annual banquet. She also volunteers for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program as an essay reviewer and student mentor.
In her spare time, she is learning to restore vintage and antique watches.
“The access I’ve had to high-quality STEM education has provided the great privilege of working in a very novel area of cancer therapeutic development. I dedicate time to STEM outreach to be able to pay that opportunity forward to the next generation of scientists who will solve problems, some of which we cannot yet envision,” she said. “The enthusiasm of both the students and our staff in our grassroots engagement projects is so energizing. I get so much more back than I give.”