Dr. Dionne Price supports the development of safe and effective drugs.
What’s your role in public health?
I am a statistician at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, I work in the Office of Biostatistics within the Office of Translational Sciences at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
The role of CDER is to protect public health by ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs and therapeutic biologics, which are substances developed from living organisms or their products — such as monoclonal antibodies — that are used to prevent or treat disease.
I, and my colleagues in the Office of Biostatistics, provide CDER and other stakeholders with statistical leadership, expertise and advice to foster the expeditious development of safe and effective drugs.
Can you describe your focus area in one sentence?
At the FDA, I provide leadership to a talented group of statisticians and analysts who evaluate the design and analysis of clinical trials and other studies, ensure the safety of marketed drugs and advance statistical science through research.
I am also the 2023 president of the American Statistical Association (ASA). In this role, I have the honor of focusing on our ASA mission, which is to promote the practice and profession of statistics.
What brought you to public health?
While an undergraduate majoring in applied mathematics, I was in a scholarship program that strongly encouraged summer internships. I was fortunate to have internships at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory.
While each experience was extremely valuable, one changed the trajectory of my life and brought me to public health. While at NIH, I worked with biostatisticians in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. I enjoyed the work so much that I decided to become a biostatistician and work for the good of our public health. This required increasing my knowledge, so I sought a Master of Science in biostatistics from the UNC School of Public Health and a Doctor of Philosophy in biostatistics from Emory University.
As I was completing my dissertation, my advisor gave me sage advice. She suggested I consider all employment sectors — academia, industry and government. After learning about the public health mission of the FDA, I knew it was the place for me. I enjoy the challenging, dynamic and meaningful work that we do every day.
Can you describe a time when you have pivoted in your public health career?
I began my career as a statistician at the FDA and a volunteer for numerous activities of the ASA. Early on, my focus was on being the best statistician I could be, and a large part of that was ensuring I was actively involved in my professional organization.
I cannot pinpoint when it happened, but at some point, I pivoted to also strongly focusing on the development of others, which is a key aspect of leadership. Becoming a leader has been a gradual process with me watching other leaders that I admire, availing myself of leadership training opportunities and simply listening. There is always more to learn, but I truly enjoy my roles at the FDA and ASA. My goal now is to make a positive difference in the careers of others.
Who are you when you’re at home?
At home, I am just “Dee,” a daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, niece, cousin and friend. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
Since I am from the Tidewater region of Virginia, I tend to gravitate toward water — specifically, the beach. The beach is my happy place, but I must drive a good distance to get there as I reside in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Since I can’t get to a beach quickly, I also get a lot of enjoyment out of the convenience of hopping on the Metrorail and visiting the Smithsonian museums and the National Mall.
Read more interviews in The Pivot series.