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Dr. Alex Hudson, the latest addition to the Kids First team, has joined the Kids First Program Team as a Presidential Management Fellow. Hailing from a distinguished background in academic excellence, a robust career in neuroscience research, and a profound commitment to public service, Alex shifted from a 14-year tenure in the laboratory toward a broader impact on the biomedical research landscape, and is actively advancing the program’s mission by emphasizing evidence-based decision-making in pediatric cancer research.

Alex’s academic journey began with undergraduate research in neuroscience at the University of Virginia, where she first delved into the complex workings of the brain. Venturing beyond the academic realm, she transitioned to a role as a laboratory technician at Virginia Commonwealth University, employing her skills in DNA sequencing to contribute to groundbreaking research on schizophrenia. Her research pursuits evolved into a Ph.D. in neuroscience, where she explored the nuances of drug addiction in adolescent mice. However, it was during her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego that Alex furthered her research horizons, focusing on neuroendocrinology and its relation to the onset of puberty. These formative experiences laid the foundation for a distinguished career in neuroscience research that has spanned over a decade.

What makes Hudson unique is not just her scientific know-how but her daring decision to shift from the private world of laboratory research to the public sector. The appeal of the Presidential Management Fellowship program caught Alex’s attention, offering her the opportunity to apply her expertise in a wider context.

In discussing her motivation for her career pivot, Alex said, “I wanted to move beyond the lab and contribute to something bigger. The public sector, with its focus on impact and service, was the natural next step for me.” Her interest in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and, more specifically, the Kids First Research Program, was driven by a cooperative commitment to advance biomedical research to better humanity.

At the Heart of Kids First

Alex’s journey within Kids First encompasses roles at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Center for Research Strategy, revealing a multifaceted approach to her contributions. In the expansive realm of big-picture analyses of pediatric cancer research, Alex stressed the importance of evidence-based decision-making. She asserted, “We must ensure that every dollar spent serves the purpose of advancing research and ultimately benefiting the public.”

Her involvement in crafting the Kids First commentary further underscores her commitment to transparency and public education. Alex remarked, “The Kids First Data Resource Portal is a treasure trove for researchers, and my goal is to shed light on its potential, fostering interest and engagement within the scientific community.”

Learning Opportunities and a Call to Action

Navigating the scientific intricacies associated with rare diseases, particularly in the realm of childhood cancers and birth defects, has profoundly impacted Alex. She shared valuable insights into the pivotal role of data in comprehending these conditions, underscoring the necessity for a unified effort within the scientific community. Reflecting on these unique hurdles, Alex stated, “Rare diseases pose distinct challenges, yet they also present an avenue for groundbreaking discoveries. Kids First stands at the forefront of this pursuit, and being a part of it has provided an enriching learning experience.”

Viewing these challenges as opportunities, Alex encourages those contemplating similar programs or in the public sector by emphasizing, “The Presidential Management Fellowship’s flexibility offers diverse roles for individuals with advanced degrees. I applaud those aiming to make a significant impact in the government sector for the betterment of our world.”

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