Alumni Profile: Natalie Cheung Rotelli, MPH
Consultant Computational Statistician, Eli Lilly and Company
Describe your current position
I am currently a computational statistician at Eli Lilly and Company. Within Lilly’s Global Statistical Sciences function, I work in our Advanced Analytics group. Within Advanced Analytics, I am able to work on interesting statistical problems across all therapeutic areas (e.g., Oncology, Diabetes, Pain). Some of the work I do is clinical trial optimization, clinical development optimization, and leading a data curation project. The data curation project will allow Lilly scientists to access externally available public data in order to inform many important drug development decisions.
List your career highlights
My overall career highlights are that I have been able to work across many platforms: contract research organization, academia, government, non-profit, and industry. I have been in my current role for 10 years, and it has been rewarding to work both in clinical development (of a diabetes drug on the market now), and Advanced Analytics, where I am learning something new all the time.
In 2010, I was the statistical analyst on a study drug that was employing a novel Phase II-III seamless design that used a clinical utility index for adaptive allocation and stopping rules. I was the statistical analyst on the team, and was exposed to Bayesian modeling and simulation for the first time. This trial and drug went on to find success, and the drug is now on the market. I feel a great sense of pride of being part of that team.
In September of 2016, I traveled to our Japanese and Chinese sites in order to lead an Advanced Leadership Program to our statistics colleagues in Japan, China, India, and Singapore. This allowed me to interact with colleagues that I had only known via email or web-conferences, and to hear about areas of leadership and growth in their own geographic areas. In was an amazing nine days! I also have been very active in the American Statistical Association (ASA) has an officer for my “home” section – Section of Statistical Programmers and Analysts, and as a Vice Chair of the Council of Sections Governing Board.
What was your first memory of UNC or the Department of Biostatistics?
My first memory is nervously entering Dr. Turnbull’s office. I was late – not wanting to major in Chemistry or Mathematics, and only recently aware of the BIOS BSPH program. I was initially intimidated, going into the building that was on campus, but far from all my other undergrad classes. However, I was instantly greeted warmly, and I decided that day that BIOS would be my home. I just returned back in October of 2016, and I could remember which computer I liked in the computer lab, where my mailbox was, and all my professor’s offices. Things have changed, but that feeling of ‘home’ was still there!
What was your favorite thing about the Department of Biostatistics?
My favorite thing about the program is the versatility it allows you in class choice. I was in the BSPH program, which accounts for several hours of the Master’s program. This allowed me to take BIOS courses beyond what is required, and also take several interesting public health courses. I took Environmental Engineering, Maternal and Child Health, and Epidemiology courses that served me well in the working world.
What are your words of wisdom to current student in the Biostatistics program?
Have fun! The programs are all hard work, but they come with high reward. My education from the BIOS department has given me a strong foundation of statistics at all the jobs I have had. However, I also carry all the friendships and lasting memories I have from the department. All stats jokes (OK, maybe only funny to a very small sub-population), and bonding over late night programming and studying. I look back at that time with fondness, and I hope you are able to learn a lot and have fun doing it!