CTSI Spotlight: Terry O'Donnell

Terry O'Donnell

Terry O'Donnell is a Program Analyst for CTSI's Catalyst program.

How long have you worked at UCSF?

I started in the spring of 2001 after a cross-country move from Amherst, MA, where I was studying Art History. I worked for Dr. Joel Palefsky in the General Clinical Research Center from the start of my UCSF career in 2001 until the spring of 2007. There I helped run the Doris Duke, Clinical Research Fellowship for Med Students, which now includes international research. When the CTSI was created, my role expanded to include the PACCTR (Pathways to Careers in Clinical Training) Fellowship, which is now referred to as the Clinical and Translational Research Fellowship Program.

In 2007 I returned to school to study interior architecture and design and completed a BFA in spring 2010. I spent the next 4 years working part-time at UCSF for Dr. Paul Volberding, as the Managing Editor for the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

In my spare time, I worked for a couple small interior design firms over the years, until I began my current position here at the CTSI in January 2014.

What do you do at UCSF and how is it connected to the UCSF mission?

I am the program analyst for the Catalyst program and our team helps to advance healthcare by providing support to basic scientists in the early development of therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?

Probably the most challenging part is having to juggle multiple tasks with competing deadlines. The most rewarding part would have to be the sense of teamwork here at CTSI. I've learned a lot in a very short time and felt like I was welcomed into the group right away.

What do you like most about your work?

I've enjoyed organizing our Catalyst Awards program 'report out' and seminars. It's a little like putting on a theater production or large party, there's a lot of work that goes into it and many stressful moments, but there's always a great sense of satisfaction in the end. I've also really enjoyed hearing about the interesting projects that the investigators are working on.

What are some things that people may not know about the work you do?

In addition to everything I do to support the director and the Catalyst Awards program, I also help with the LaunchPad (http://launchpad.ucsf.edu) site, by writing up short descriptions of each video and posting it.

If you chose another career path outside UCSF what would it be?

Either architecture or interior design. I've always been fascinated by architecture and grew up around construction sites spending summers and weekends working with my father and brothers building houses. One of the first things that drew me to San Francisco was all the old Victorians buildings. I especially love adaptive reuse of old buildings and mixing the old with the new. While I love modern construction, you just can't beat the detailing of something built 100+ years ago.

What's something that your colleagues or members of the UCSF community might be surprised to know about you?

I grew up on a horse farm and used to show quarter horses as a kid, though it's been years since I rode.

What are your favorite things to do with your free time?

I love exploring the city on my bike and checking out different neighborhoods. It's really the best way to get around San Francisco, I just avoid the hills as much as possible. I also like running or taking long walks in the Presidio with my partner Dave and our dog Coco. Also, I love traveling though I don't get to go nearly as much as I'd like to.

CTSI Spotlight is part of an ongoing series that offers an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn more about the wide range of people who make CTSI's work possible. See all featured faculty and staff.