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 tech-enabled marketplace for top-tier biomedical talent, providing access to Veteran experts, resources, and support to accelerate the commercialization of biomedical tech. 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 aim, 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 and Research Specialists that is continuing to grow. Our unparalleled online training curriculum allows military personnel and Veterans with biomedical backgrounds to upskill their expertise and experience gained during service to facilitate new opportunities to serve as Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists. ISA holistically supports each project, providing information, insight, and the talent that turbocharges success.
Integrity and objectivity are at the core of ISA. Our experts have proven track records and are equipped to succeed. We are honest and transparent, holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards. We strive to achieve mutual success for all our stakeholders by delivering trusted guidance and impactful solutions that push boundaries, encourage collaboration, and advance transformational innovation.
Why choose ISA?
A unique aspect of ISA is our familiarity with DoD/Federal Agency biomedical R&D resources and processes. Without working in the DoD or other Federal Agencies, it can be a challenge to identify starting points or understand how to navigate and interact with these entities. Each ISA Fellow is either an active-duty service member (ADSM), military Veteran, Federal civilian employee, or former Federal civilian employee with a biomedical background or unique training and experience (e.g., medical countermeasures, international health, special operations medicine, fixed or rotary wing aeromedical transport, etc.). ISA can train these personnel to understand the “business of medicine,” but we cannot provide the unique biomedical background obtained by service in the DoD and Federal Agencies. ISA Fellows are highly motivated to “serve for life” by accelerating the transition/commercialization of biomedical tech to all markets, while providing unique insights and guidance for entering and building long-term relationships within DoD, Federal Agency, and international markets.
When did ISA begin?
ISA was founded in September 2020, but it has been in the making for much longer. ISA is built on more than a decade of successful scientific advising practices and experiences gained by Eric Hanson, MD, MPH, 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 more than $68M in R&D funding where he has served as the principal investigator (PI). He and his team have interacted with over 500 biomedical companies and captured more than a quarter billion dollars in non-dilutive funding during his career. Eric is now driven to provide other Veterans the opportunity to follow a career in scientific advising, and to “serve for life” while exponentially increasing the impact that accelerating biomedical technologies to market can provide for active-duty service members, Veterans, patients, caregivers, and their families.
What are ISA-trained Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists?
ISA-trained Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists (i.e., ISA Fellows) have successfully completed at least one ISA course and have unlocked access to ISA tools, resources, databases, and support. Traditional Scientific Advisors are underutilized and are often sought out for knowledge required for the development of a technology. We are training Scientific Advisors with knowledge and unique experience to do more. ISA-trained Scientific Advisors expand on the traditional role of a Scientific Advisor by providing a positive return-on-investment from capturing non-dilutive funding, identifying and coordinating resources and opportunities, and providing tactical and strategic guidance. The ISA courses add to personnel’s unique combination of clinical and operational medicine skill sets by providing “business of medicine” training in areas including funding, innovation, commercialization, and many others. ISA training provides unique skill sets and resources, allowing younger and more diverse individuals to serve on SABs at earlier points in their careers. Research Specialists support the work of Scientific Advisors, with one or more of each making up a Scientific Advisory Team (SA Team). We have found that this Team approach leads to rapid completion of high-quality projects, as well as better identification and mitigation of potential pitfalls that may otherwise be overlooked. While Scientific Advisors interact directly with clients, DoD personnel, researchers, and other components of project teams to coordinate and implement plans, Research Specialists provide 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.
What services does ISA provide?
ISA services include:
- Strategic Roadmaps – Strategic roadmaps provide topic-specific information on opportunities that are most relevant to a particular Client’s current and future needs. These 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.
- 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 particular clinical, research, or other areas of interest. Assistance with connecting to DoD and Federal collaborators.
- Consultations – Subject matter expert hourly consultations
- Training – ISA Scientific Advisor and Research Specialist training
Advisor Placement – Scientific Advisor placement on Scientific Advisory Boards (SABs)
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 biomedical tech. How does having a Scientific Advisor with military experience help us?
Accelerating dual-use biomedical technology (i.e., tech with military and civilian use cases and markets) is our specialty. Over ten years, we have interacted with over 500 biomedical entities, many of which did not realize they had tech with dual-use capabilities or potential, as well as others who knew they had dual-use tech, but did not know where to start or how to enter the military space. We have also assisted entities that started with military-focused tech transition into civilian market opportunities. Very few of the biomedical companies we have worked with have civilian-only or non-dual-use tech.
No matter which of these situations best describes your company, we have found that the unique training and experience gained from working in DoD/Federal Agency settings provides our Scientific Advisors with access to specialized resources that are underrecognized and underutilized. Military personnel have been trained to lead, succeed as part of a team, be attentive to detail, and function well under stress. As Scientific Advisors, they know how to translate their experiences in collaboration with industry to rapidly progress the development of biomedical technologies to prevent disease, improve injury recovery, and address the health needs of both military and civilian populations.
What value add does an ISA-trained Scientific Advisor provide?
An ISA-trained Scientific Advisor proactively assists with guiding both tactical implementation and the build of strategic processes for your company. ISA Scientific Advisors are trained and equipped to effectively capture non-dilutive funding, innovate tech, and accelerate commercialization. Our advisors are typically able to generate a large return-on-investment (ROI) that is easily quantifiable and readily observed by the companies they serve.
Are all ISA Scientific Advisors military Veterans?
At this time, all ISA Scientific Advisors are military Veterans with training and experience in biomedical specialties and topic-focused areas. We have learned that experience in DoD/Federal Agency biomedical fields or in clinical and operational settings is a requirement in order to get the most out of our current training courses, due to their familiarity with the terminology, topics, and funding mechanisms presented. During pilot cohorts, we also found that the terminology and processes of the DoD and Federal Agencies was overly cumbersome for civilians in a compressed three-month course. In the future, ISA plans to adapt the courses to better serve civilian personnel.
Where do I start to capture non-dilutive funding resources?
Many biomedical companies are familiar with grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and have completed the required registrations. If not, ISA can assist with these, as well as with the registrations needed to apply for non-dilutive funding from the DoD or other Federal Agencies. From there, ISA can provide an initial company-specific 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 (e.g., consortia, conferences, industry days). These Strategic Roadmaps are dynamic documents that provide your team with an efficient approach to navigate and capture 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 (in areas such as AI/algorithms, drugs, devices, digital health, platforms, systems, vaccines, and many multidisciplinary projects) that demonstrate the quantitative ROI and value add that ISA can provide for companies like yours.
Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists
What is ISA Fellows Level I Foundations training?
The ISA Level I Foundations Course serves as an entry point into a lifelong career opportunity that might not have been on your radar while you were in the military. Currently, all of our trained Fellows were not previously aware that they could pursue a career in scientific advising. Most of us did not leave the military with significant “business of medicine” experience. The ISA courses (Levels I, II, and III) are an opportunity for you to fill in any business of medicine gaps in your knowledge and to provide you with tools and resources to help you succeed, no matter the level or extent to which you decide to pursue scientific advising over time.
The Level I Foundations Course is a professionally developed online three-month course (12 weekly modules). All modules are asynchronous, with weekly group discussions and case studies. The ISA Community provides extensive additional resources for course graduates (i.e., Fellows). Upon completion of the Level I Foundations Course, Fellows can choose to serve as either Scientific Advisor or Research Specialist (with the ability to switch anytime). Level II Intermediate and Level III Advanced Courses are currently in development.
Level I training is completed in Cohorts of topic- or specialty-focused areas. Cohort examples have included International Health Specialists, Special Operations medicine (medics, physicians, tech transfer). Future Cohorts will include Nurse Researchers, Aerospace Medicine/NASA, Public Health, Orthopedics, Surgeons (many specialties), Medical Countermeasures, TBI/PTSD, Burns). Please contact us to add to this topic- and specialty-focused list that you would like to participate in or bring to your DoD/Federal Agency. Currently, Cohorts of up to 20 are completed every quarter. Additional cohorts may be added as requested by our Community Partners.
What does the ISA Fellows curriculum cover?
The ISA Level I Foundations Course for Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists consist of 12 weekly modules divided into three Parts. Part I: Tech and Resources provides a foundational knowledge of dual-use 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 II: Team and Transition focuses on working with companies and DoD personnel, structuring agreements for public-private collaborations, and roadmaps for accelerating technology transition/commercialization. You will learn what a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) is and in what situations CRADAs are useful, the different types of CRADAs, typical CRADA elements/articles, and the long-term benefits of establishing a DoD CRADA. We also discuss the transition/commercialization of biomedical tech by DoD/Federal Agencies (e.g., Technology and Manufacturing Readiness Levels, Budget Activity Codes, and the ISA T3 matrix for due diligence, regulatory and manufacturing considerations, and intellectual property). Part III: Working on SA Teams discusses engaging with the ISA Community and your initial Clients from the perspectives of Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists. We cover the importance of collecting and capturing outcomes and maximizing ISA Community participation. Finally, you will be assigned a 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. The Level II Intermediate Course is expected to become available in 2022-2023, and the Level III Advanced Course in 2024-2025.
Beyond the Level I Foundations Course, what additional training/mentoring options are available to military Veterans with biomedical backgrounds?
The ISA Level II Intermediate Course will be completed in 2022-2023 and the Level III Advanced Course will be completed in 2024-2025. ISA is also pursuing topic-focused module development (e.g., TBI/PTSD, rehabilitation, burn care, en route care, prolonged field care) and specialist-focused module development (e.g., Aerospace/Space Force/NASA; International Health Specialists/Public Health, Trauma/Special Operations medicine, orthopedics) within our Cohort-based learning courses.
Do I need to be a particular rank or have experience in a particular military occupation?
No. All Officers, Enlisted, and Federal Civilian Employees that have a biomedical background and experience are the only requirements to join ISA at this time. Interest in serving as a Scientific Advisor or Research Specialist at any point in your career is something that we can explore with you. ISA has completed a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to participate in DoD SkillBridge as an internship provider for 3-6 months with interested personnel. If you are active duty and contemplating separation or retirement, please contact us to answer any questions you have about this.
Do I have to quit my current job to train or work as a Scientific Advisor or Research Specialist?
No. You can serve as a Scientific Advisor or Research Specialist at any point in your career. This is a lifelong skillset and, once you complete training, you will be included as part of the ISA Community for life. We have found that younger ADSM personnel who separate pursue education opportunities (e.g., GI Bill) or seek part or full-time positions, so this can be started as a side gig. You can also choose to complete projects and consultations outside of work hours if cleared by your employer. For mid-career personnel, ISA training will allow you to start as a Scientific Advisor or Research Specialist as you decrease clinical practice hours or ramp up for a new career opportunity. For retired personnel and those seeking encore opportunities, this can provide part-time work or ramp to full-time opportunities.
Is there a cost to attending ISA Fellows training?
There will never be any cost to active-duty service members (ADSM) or military Veterans for participating in ISA training.
How much training is required?
The lifetime amount of training required depends on each individual’s experience and their level of engagement in scientific advising. However, all ISA Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists are expected to complete, at a minimum, the Level I Foundations Course. This initial course has twelve modules released once each week for 3 months. The course can be completed in 12 weeks, requiring no more than approximately 5 hours each week. However, additional optional resources and materials are provided for further learning.
What is the difference between a Scientific Advisor and Research Specialist?
Scientific Advisors provide valuable insights and guidance to help the next generation of biomedical startups innovate their tech, navigate Federal opportunities and requirements, and move from lab to market with speed and success. They interact with clients, DoD personnel, researchers, and other components of project teams directly and collaborate with other Advisors and Research Specialists as part of one or more Scientific Advisory Teams (SA Teams).
Research Specialists collaborate with other Research Specialists and Scientific Advisors 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 outcomes.
ISA also works to improve the value add for your company by connecting Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists to serve as Scientific Advisory Teams (SA Teams). We have found that the combination of one or more Scientific Advisors with one or more Research Specialists into SA Teams is a synergistic combination.
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. At this time, our initial course build is intended for ADSM with biomedical backgrounds and military Veterans with unique biomedical training that was provided by the DoD during active duty, Reserve/Guard, or a Federal Agency following separation/ retirement. We have found that the familiarity and experience of working in DoD and Federal Agencies is important for understanding the terminology and its many unique processes. This military Veteran background, training, and experience provides unique knowledge and skill sets that are very helpful in guiding companies with dual-use technology (e.g., military and civilian applicability) in the biomedical or life science industry. ISA plans to adapt the courses in the future to better serve civilian personnel.
Who are ISA’s Community Partners?
There is no cost ever to military Veterans for the ISA Fellows training. This is possible because of our Community Partners. ISA collaborates and contracts with DoD and Federal Agencies to provide tailored training for active-duty service members (ADSM), Veterans, and Federal civilian employees. ISA partners with 501(c)3 organizations when there is a significant and beneficial synergy of mission and vision. Corporate Sponsors are leaders in biomedical, medical, health/life industries and all entities supporting our ADSM, Veteran, and Federal Civilian employee communities. Corporate Sponsors and individuals provide support for:
- Our signature ISA Fellows training and the build of additional courses, such as Level II Intermediate and Level III Advanced, as well as topic-focused module development (e.g., TBI/PTSD, rehabilitation, burn care, en route care, prolonged field care) and specialist-focused module development (e.g., Aerospace/Space Force/NASA; International Health Specialists/Public Health, Trauma/Special Operations medicine, orthopedics);
- Covering the cost of enrollment for individual Veterans, ensuring that training will always be available at no cost to Veterans.
- Assisting ISA Fellows in starting their own scientific advising businesses (e.g., LLCs); and
- The continuous build of the ISA Community’s network of networks.
Why should I partner with ISA?
We partner with individuals and organizations who have missions and visions closely aligned with ours. Together, we are stronger and synergistic.
Why does ISA prioritize training active-duty military service members (ADSM), Veterans, and Federal civilian employees to become Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists?
We have found that the familiarity and experience of working in DoD and Federal Agencies is important for understanding DoD/Federal Agency terminology and its many unique processes. This ADSM and Veteran background, training, and experience provides unique knowledge and skill sets that are very helpful in guiding companies with dual-use technology (i.e., tech with military and civilian applicability) in the biomedical or life science industry.
How can I verify that my funding is going to the right place?
Transparency is a core ISA value. Our goal is to apply 100% of Community Partners funding (including fees if applicable) toward building ISA Community resources, additional training courses and modules, and for Fellows to build their own professional companies (supported by ancillary services, such as legal and accounting). ISA provides quantitative and objective information on all funding use. ISA also provides information to 501(c)3 partners to support their provision of information to GuideStar Seal of Transparency, Charity Navigator, and other entities as required.
Who is ISA?
ISA was co-founded by Eric Hanson and Kirtly Raether. ISA is built on more than a decade of successful scientific advising practices and experiences gained by Eric Hanson, MD, MPH, 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 more than $68M in R&D funding where he has served as the principal investigator (PI). He and his team have interacted with over 500 biomedical companies and captured more than a quarter billion dollars in non-dilutive funding during his career. Kirtly Raether began working with Dr. Hanson in 2008 as a Research Associate and then Research Supervisor for complex neuroimaging analytics. In 2014, Kirtly again worked with Dr. Hanson to build the processes and best practices that support the ISA training, professional services, and the ISA marketplace. Kirtly has a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts and is a clinical and academic researcher who is experienced in providing training in complex technologies. Eric and Kirtly’s intention with ISA are to provide active-duty service members, Veterans, and Federal Civilian employees with biomedical training the opportunity to pursue a career in scientific advising and “serve for life” while exponentially increasing the impact that accelerating biomedical technologies to market can provide for active-duty service members, Veterans, patients, caregivers, and their families.
The military has taught us the value of preparation. COVID-19 has taught us that from a biomedical standpoint, we will always require more preparation. We can accomplish a lot by training biomedical personnel to actively partner with industry while on active duty and as Veterans. In addition, the provision of enabling technologies and strategic business planning to increase efficiency, provide R&D funding, and streamline how products get to market will help. Finally, we’re driving fundamental change to the life science industry by building distributed Scientific Advisory Teams where centralized resources are made available to the ISA Community. ISA-trained Scientific Advisors and Research Specialists (i.e., ISA Fellows) can be hired directly by ISA, start their own professional services company (with ISA assisting with legal, accounting, agreements, and other requirements), upskill for hiring by industry, train while employed by industry, or be placed as a Scientific Advisor on biomedical/health and life science Scientific Advisory Boards (SABs).
Why are ISA-trained Scientific Advisors or Research Specialists unique?
Through their DoD/Federal experience, ISA-trained Fellows have demonstrated their reliable work ethic, team loyalty, motivated productivity, assertiveness, grit to ensure mission completion, leadership ability, flexibility to changing requirements, and easy integration with teams. Add to this their biomedical skill sets and unique familiarity with DoD/Federal processes. ISA can provide its signature ISA Fellows training and “business of medicine” support, along with the resources of the ISA Community and its network of networks. This combination of associational thinking, experience, grit, access to resources, and continual cohort-based “learning for life” training is unique. Finally, add in the desire of military Veterans to “serve for life,” and it is clear how this unique combination can contribute to your company’s mission and strategy.
What does my ISA Community partnership provide?<br />
As a Sponsor 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
- Future builds will include company dashboards and job postings
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