Learn how ISA helped Sperry pursue non-dilutive funding from NSF and strategic DoD/Federal Agency guidance to accelerate early development.
Learn how ISA helped Evrys expand its product pipeline and receive non-dilutive federal funding to supplement their NIH-funded research.
Learn how ISA helped Sonivate secure non-dilutive funding, accelerating the discovery and development of their ergonomic finger-mounted probe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is ISA?
ISA is a military-connected community of health leaders on a purpose-driven mission to advance lifesaving biomedical technologies.
ISA was founded to efficiently solve massive global challenges and harness the potential of private enterprise and governments to change the lives of people around the world. To accomplish this, we mobilize talent, streamline processes, provide resources, and offer expertise to advance our clients’ biomedical initiatives, making life better for everyone.
ISA has assembled a community of Scientific Advisors, Research Specialists, and Project Managers that uniquely form into dynamic Virtual Scientific Advisory Teams (SA Teams). Our unparalleled online training curriculum allows the military-connected community with biomedical backgrounds to upskill their expertise and experience gained during service to facilitate new opportunities to serve on these SA Teams. ISA holistically supports each project, providing information, insight, and the talent that turbocharges success.
Who is ISA?
ISA is built on more than a decade of successful scientific advising practices and experiences gained by Eric Hanson, MD, MPH, and Kirtly Raether, MSc. Eric is a former U.S. Air Force physician, Senior Flight Surgeon, Division Chief of Science & Technology at the USAF Surgeon General’s Office, and USAF Chair of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). He has received > $68M in R&D funding where he has served as the principal investigator. Kirtly has worked in civilian R&D and clinical environments and has analyzed hundreds of DoD/Federal Agency R&D mechanisms and processes. The ISA team has interacted with over 500 biomedical companies and captured more than a quarter-billion dollars in non-dilutive funding to accelerate tech.
What is a Scientific Advisory Team (SA Team)?
An SA Team is a collaborative group of ISA-trained Fellows. SA Teams are dynamic and can be formed temporarily for focused rapid completion of a specific project or can be a longer-term collaboration between Fellows. Depending on the needs of the team and the client, an SA Team may consist of any combination of one or more Scientific Advisors, Research Specialists, and Project Managers. Additionally, ISA Fellows may choose to serve on more than one SA Team.
When did ISA begin?
ISA was founded in September 2020, but it has been in the making for much longer. The need to rapidly respond to COVID catalyzed the founding of ISA in September 2020. Many companies wanted to help in the response efforts, but most did not know how or where to start. ISA’s response was to train military-connected personnel to assist these companies in efficiently navigating DoD and Federal Agency requirements and resources. ISA participated in the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator from November 2020 to February 2021.
How is "military-connected" defined by ISA?
The term “military-connected” refers to active-duty service members, transitioning service members, military spouses, military veterans, current or former Federal civilian employees, and family members of these personnel.
What are ISA-trained Scientific Advisors, Research Specialists, and Project Managers?
ISA-trained SA, RS, and PM (i.e., ISA Fellows) have successfully completed at least one ISA training course and have access to ISA resources, tools, and ISA Community/Ecosystem support. All ISA Fellows work remotely as Freelancers. ISA-trained Scientific Advisors (SA) expand on the traditional role of a Scientific Advisor by providing a positive return-on-investment by efficiently navigating DoD/Federal Agency processes; capturing non-dilutive funding; identifying and coordinating resources and opportunities, and providing tactical and strategic technology guidance. Researcher Specialists (RS) provide remote back-end support through literature searches and reviews; writing, drafting, and reviewing research proposals or other documents; identifying and curating funding and collaborative research opportunities, and capturing best practices, lessons learned, and measurable outcomes. Project Managers (PM) collect, analyze, and compile information in support of biomedical research; assist in project management and in reviewing research proposals, grants, and other documents as required.
ISA Training Programs
What is ISA Fellows Level I Foundations training?
The ISA Level I Foundations Course is a professionally-developed part-time online three-month course (12 weekly modules) that provides necessary upskilling and training to transition into the “business of medicine”. All modules are asynchronous, with weekly virtual group discussions and case studies. Upon completion of the Level I Foundations Course, Fellows can choose to serve as Scientific Advisors, Research Specialists, or Project Managers (with the ability to work in more than one role or switch anytime).
What does the ISA Level I Foundations Cover?
The ISA Level I Foundations Course is divided into four Parts. Part I provides an introduction to SA, RS, and PM roles and responsibilities. Part II: Tech and Resources covers foundational knowledge of dual-use health and biomedical technologies of interest to the DoD, the value of non-dilutive funding (NDF), the myriad of NDF mechanisms available from the DoD and other Federal Agencies, and how to apply for NDF. Part III: Team and Transition focuses on working with companies and DoD personnel, structuring agreements for public-private collaborations, and roadmaps for accelerating technology transition/commercialization. Part IV: Working on virtual SA Teams discusses engaging with the ISA Community and your initial Clients from SA, RS, and PM perspectives. We cover the importance of collecting and capturing outcomes and maximizing ISA Community participation. Finally, you will be assigned a Capstone project to begin applying what you have learned throughout the course in a topic area of your choice. All resources in the ISA Community are made available to ISA Fellows upon completion of Level I.
Beyond the Level I Foundations Course, what additional training/mentoring options are available to military Veterans with biomedical backgrounds?
The ISA Level II Intermediate Courses will be completed in 2023 and the Level III Advanced Courses will be completed in 2024-2025. ISA will also pursue topic-focused (e.g., TBI/PTSD, rehabilitation, burn care, en route care, prolonged field care, and others) and specialty-focused (e.g., Aerospace/Space Force/NASA; International Health Specialists/Public Health, Trauma/Special Operations medicine, orthopedics, others) supplementary module development.
Do I have to quit my current job to train or work on a Scientific Advisory Team (SA Team)?
No. You can serve in a virtual capacity based on your availability as a Scientific Advisor, Research Specialist, or Project Manager at any time in your career. This is a lifelong skillset and, once you have completed training, you will be included as part of the ISA Community for life. As a flexible freelance opportunity, Fellows can choose to work on as few or as many projects or consultations as best suits their current situation as it changes over time; whether pursuing an education, working other part- or full-time jobs, changing careers, or seeking encore opportunities after retirement.
Do I need to be a particular rank or have experience in a particular military occupation?
No. All officers, enlisted, military spouses, and Federal Civilian Employees that have health, life sciences, or biomedical background and experience are welcome to join the ISA Community.
Is there a cost to attending ISA Fellows training?
There is no cost to military-connected personnel to complete the ISA Level I Foundations Course training. ISA collaborates and partners with DoD and Federal Agencies to provide tailored training for active-duty service members and transitioning service members via DoD SkillBridge internships. Scholarships are available to military spouses, military Veterans, Federal civilian employees, and family members of these personnel. A volunteer commitment is requested in exchange for each Level I scholarship provided. Volunteer time can include serving on ISA Councils, ISA Community Build projects, or mentoring Fellows in training.
How much training is required?
ISA Scientific Advisors, Research Specialists, and Project Managers are expected to complete, at a minimum, the Level I Foundations Course. The course can be completed in 12 weeks, requiring no more than approximately 5 hours each week. However, additional resources and materials are provided during the course and these are always accessible to ISA Fellows within the ISA Community.
Do I have to be an active-duty service member (ADSM), military Veteran, or Federal civilian employee with biomedical training to be a Scientific Advisor or Research Specialist?
Yes. We have found that the health-related training provided prior to and during active duty, Reserve/Guard, or a Federal Agency following separation/retirement combined with each individual’s unique experiences are a requirement to succeed in the ISA Level I Foundations training.
What is the difference between a Scientific Advisor, Research Specialist, and Project Managers?
Scientific Advisors (SA) provide valuable insights and tactical/strategic guidance to help the next generation of health and biomedical startups innovate their tech, navigate Federal opportunities and requirements, and rapidly move tech from lab to market. SAs interact with clients, DoD personnel, and researchers directly and collaborate with other Advisors, Research Specialists, and Project Managers as part of one or more SA Teams.
Research Specialists (RS) collaborate with other Research Specialists, Scientific Advisors, and Project Managers as part of one or more SA Teams. They perform literature searches and reviews to support or dispute research hypotheses; write, draft, and review research proposals, white papers, and other documents as needed; identify and curate funding and collaborative research opportunities to build company-specific strategic roadmaps, and capture best practices, lessons learned, and measurable/quantitative outcomes.
Project Managers (PM) support the R&D and projects of SA and RS as part of one or more SA Teams. PM’s collect, analyze, and compile information in support of biomedical research; assist in project management and in reviewing research proposals, grants, and other documents as required. Opportunities to pursue project management certifications and grants management specialist certification can be completed outside of the ISA training and is encouraged, but not a requirement.
What is the ISA Community?
The ISA Community is a network of networks for anyone with a health, life science, or biomedical background and an interest in accelerating the development of health and life science technologies.
How can I join the ISA Community?
Simple! Email Kasie Valenti, ISA’s Director of Community Development, at Kasie@joinisa.io
What is the ISA Ecosystem?
The ISA Ecosystem is made up of the ISA Community (Fellows, Clients, Partners, Sponsors), the ISA Freelance Marketplace, and the vetted external ancillary service companies that help to support our ISA Community.
Who can join the ISA Community?
Military-connected personnel with health, life science, or biomedical background can join the ISA Community. Personnel who have completed the Level I Foundations training requirements (i.e., ISA Fellows) can access resources that support their participation as a virtual Scientific Advisor, Research Specialist, and Project Manager. Additionally, the ISA Community includes Clients, Partners, and Sponsors.
What are ISA Ecosystem ancillary services?
The processes required to find personnel and support services are costly, difficult, and slow. Virtual Scientific Advisory Teams (SA Teams) can be rapidly identified in the ISA Community. However, frequently projects require additional services to support successful initiation, implementation, and completion. For example, Clients frequently require access to accounting assistance with DCAA compliance to support indirect cost rates above the 10% de minimis in place for most DoD/Federal Agency mechanisms, legal services for agreements and intellectual property, data science/artificial intelligence, access to clinical research organizations, device manufacturers, and many other needs. The ISA Ecosystem has vetted many support services and is constantly expanding ancillary service options for ISA Community members.
Who are ISA Community Fellows?
ISA Community Fellows have completed all of the requirements of the Level I Foundations Course curriculum. All Fellows are military-connected active-duty military service members, transitioning service members, military spouses, military Veterans, Federal civilian employees, and/or military-connected family members. ISA Fellows may serve as Scientific Advisors, Research Specialists, and/or Project Managers on one or more SA Teams.
How can I join the ISA Community as a Fellow?
Simple! Check out the follow pages:
Military Veterans- https://joinisa.io/scientific-advisors/
Military Spouses- https://joinisa.io/military-spouse-training-program/
DoD Skillbridge- https://joinisa.io/skillbridge-program/
Not finding what you are looking for? No problem. Email Kasie Valenti, ISA’s Director of Community Development at Kasie@joinisa.io
Why are all ISA Community Fellows military-connected?
The unique combination of military experience and/or familiarity along with a biomedical or scientific background is underutilized in the “business of medicine.” This combination builds associational thinking that is very helpful in guiding companies with dual-use or dual-purpose technologies (i.e., tech with military and civilian applicability) to accelerate their use in the health and life science industry, DoD, VA, and international settings. ISA has found that military-connected personnel are particularly well-suited for translating their skills and experience into the realm of scientific advising, especially when it comes to navigating DoD terminology, needs, and requirements that are not well understood by the biomedical industry.
Who are ISA Clients?
ISA Clients are health, life science, and biomedical companies that have engaged in ISA services. ISA personnel have interacted with over 500 health and life science companies and served over a hundred clients in the last decade. Technologies have included therapeutics (drugs, vaccines, medical countermeasures), diagnostics, medical devices, healthcare services, E-health, mobile health, electronic health records, biomarkers and tools, health informatics, artificial intelligence/machine learning/deep learning/AI-decision assist, digital health, and personalized health.
Does my company need a Scientific Advisor?
Multidisciplinary thinking connecting processes and progress in science, technology disruptions, and innovation in clinical implementation has tremendous potential to improve patients’ lives. Most life-science executives agree that long-term value creation lies in innovation-led growth. In the seed, startup, and growth phases of biomedical and health/life-science companies, limited company resources can make it difficult to access subject matter experts (SMEs) and technical advisors that drive this required associational thinking. Numerous biomedical companies are building extensive scientific advisory boards (SABs), which provides access to expertise and experience, when they cannot be hired as employees. With the continuous increase in CAGR of biomedical and health/life-science company investments and the need to prepare for future natural and terror threats, growth in leveraging SABs is expected to increase and offers opportunities to increase the diversity of personnel serving on SABs worldwide.
We’re not developing military tech. How does having a Scientific Advisor with military experience help us?
Accelerating dual-use or dual-purpose health and life science technologies (i.e., tech with military and civilian use cases and markets) is our specialty. We can rapidly assess your tech for dual-use applicability in health-related settings. In the last ten years, we have interacted with over 500 biomedical entities and suggested that they pursue dual-use potential with measurable outcomes. Other companies knew their tech had dual-use applicability but did not know where to start or how to compete for DoD/Federal Agency funding to accelerate theirs. ISA has also assisted entities that started with military-focused tech to transition their technologies into civilian market opportunities. Very few of the biomedical companies we have worked with have civilian-only or non-dual-use tech.
Why work with ISA?
An important differentiator of ISA Community Fellows is our familiarity with DoD/Federal Agency health and life science R&D resources and processes. It can be a challenge to identify starting points or understand how to navigate and interact with DoD or other Federal Agencies, but each ISA Fellow is military-connected and can reach their extensive networks to build virtual teams and rapidly complete the high-quality projects your company needs.
What services does ISA provide?
ISA services include:
Strategic Roadmaps – Topic-specific information on opportunities that are most relevant to a particular Client’s current and future needs. Roadmaps are developed and updated on a quarterly basis (or as needed) to include non-dilutive funding, product pipeline expansion and innovation, visibility and awareness opportunities (e.g., conferences, industry days), and transition/commercialization information.
Non-Dilutive Funding – Pre-application and full application development, supporting publications and documentation, and identification of methods to increase the likelihood of award success depending on funding agency and award mechanism.
DoD/Federal Collaborations – Identification of DoD/Federal Agency investigators/collaborators with subject matter expertise in clinical medicine, operational medicine, life sciences, research, or other health-related areas of interest. Assistance with connecting to DoD and Federal collaborators.
Consultations – Subject matter expert hourly consultations.
Training – ISA Scientific Advisor, Research Specialist, and Project Manager training.
Advisor Placement – ISA-trained Scientific Advisor placement on Scientific Advisory Boards (SABs).
What value add does an ISA-trained Scientific Advisor provide?
An ISA-trained Scientific Advisor proactively assists with guiding both tactical implementation and the strategic build of your technology-focused processes. ISA Scientific Advisors are trained and equipped to efficiently navigate DoD/Federal Agencies, effectively capture non-dilutive funding, innovate tech, and accelerate commercialization. Our virtual Scientific Advisors can help to generate positive return-on-investment that is easily quantifiable and readily observed for the Clients they serve.
Are all ISA Scientific Advisors military Veterans?
Yes, all ISA Scientific Advisors are military-connected with training and experience in health related areas.
Where do I start to capture non-dilutive funding resources?
Many biomedical companies are familiar with the ~$25B in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). However, most are not familiar with the ~$25B in biomedical R&D non-dilutive funding from the DoD or other Federal Agencies and the registrations required to apply. ISA can provide an initial company-specific ISA Strategic Roadmap outlining the most relevant DoD/Federal Agency non-dilutive funding opportunities, connections to DoD/Federal investigators and resources, and opportunities to increase the visibility and awareness of your tech. These Strategic Roadmaps are dynamic documents that provide your team with an efficient approach to navigating and capturing these resources. Our goal is to build a long-term business relationship with Clients that covers the time from startup to FDA approval/clearance and beyond. We have dozens of case studies that demonstrate the quantitative return on investment and value add that ISA can provide for companies like yours.
Who are ISA’s Community Partners?
ISA Community Partners are organizations that are dedicated to serving the military-connected community and have made a formal agreement to mutually support ISA Fellows through resources and program sharing.
Why should I partner with ISA?
We partner with organizations who have missions and visions closely aligned with ours. It takes a community to do great things and together, we are stronger and synergistic.
What does my ISA Community partnership provide?
As a Partner, you receive a number of benefits, including:
- Access to ISA-trained Fellow’s biographies, expertise areas, and experience
- Access to exclusive ISA networking events (3-4 per year) to meet ISA Fellows upon graduation
- Addition of your company logo (with link to your website) on the ISA Community Partners page to showcase your commitment to our cause
- Co-branded webinar opportunities
- Newsletter and social media features
- Future builds will include company dashboards and job postings
Who are ISA’s Community Sponsors?
ISA Community Sponsors are individuals or organizations that want to directly support ISA’s mission to lead our military-connected community to continue serving in the health industry. Our Sponsor’s financial contributions fund training and certification costs, so that more military Veterans can continue to serve by accelerating lifesaving tech.
For more information, visit: https://joinisa.io/sponsor-kit/
Why should I sponsor ISA's Fellows?
ISA Sponsor contributions allow us to offer world-class training to our military-connected community that directly supports their transition into the health industry and unlocks flexible virtual/work-from-home opportunities.
For more information, visit: https://joinisa.io/sponsor-kit/
What does my ISA Community sponsorship provide?
As a Sponsor, you receive a number of benefits, including:
- Positive impact in the military community
- Access to ISA-trained Fellow’s profiles with bio, expertise areas, experience, and skills sets
- Access to exclusive ISA networking events to meet ISA Fellows upon graduation
- Addition of your company logo (with link to your website) on ISA website
- Co-branded webinar opportunities
- Newsletter and social media special feature opportunities
- Quantitative and qualitative report on your contribution’s impact
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