The ASBMR helped Melissa connect with mentors to collaborate on research and help navigate challenges throughout her career.
Dr. Melissa Kacena is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine with a research focus on bone healing and hematopoietic-bone cell interactions. With over 20 years in the field and 18 years as an ASBMR member, she shares what has helped her advance in her research and career over the years.
How has the ASBMR helped you in your career?
I have been fortunate to receive several ASBMR supported young investigator awards and most recently the Fuller Albright Esteemed Award. These awards have been invaluable for my career development – from the opportunity to attend the ASBMR Annual Meeting to the networking opportunities and ability to build my CV. They also increased my love for bone research and my feeling that ASBMR is my professional home.
It was at the AIMM meeting where I presented my work as a young investigator award recipient that I met Dr. Charles Turner in 2003. A few years later he recruited me to Indiana University where I have been ever since. I believe he would not have been familiar with me and my research had I not been given the opportunity by ASBMR to present my work at this smaller research meeting. The Fuller Albright Esteemed Award is a very special honor. While I am sure I will not know the true impact this award will have on my career for a few years, I can say that it has certainly enhanced my reputation at the national and international level. My university leadership was also made aware of this prestigious honor, which will certainly have a long-lasting impact on my academic career.
How have connections with other ASBMR members helped you in your career?
Honestly, there are too many to mention all of them. The bulk of the ASBMR members have served as collaborators on research projects and have served as great role models for how to lead and succeed, as well as mentors and friends. I enjoy the reunion each year at the ASBMR Annual Meeting and they always have words of wisdom to share. The late Charles Turner — as noted above — recruited me to Indiana University and provided me with critical mentorship and modeling as I was beginning my academic career at a new institution. Michael Econs first met me while I was interviewing for the position at Indiana University. He has served as my champion, mentor, friend and colleague since before my arrival. I owe much of my happiness and success to him. Inevitably in an academic career there will be challenges to navigate. Fortunately for me, Mike will always open his door to discuss problems and solutions, whether they are political, research-related or personal. He is a strong advocate for equality and has at times jeopardized his own position to stand up for others (especially women). He certainly has helped me more times than I can count!