Winter 2018 Newsletter

Message from the CEO

Welcome to 4RS’ 5th year! It’s an exciting time to be a part of our organization – we have a new board, a continuing partnership with the Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse, and many exciting professional development opportunities. As our membership and resources continue to grow, the board is committed to making participation in 4RS a highlight of your graduate or postdoctoral studies. We have ambitious targets for growth and investment in the upcoming year that we hope will bring more high-impact projects, exciting professional development events with noteworthy speakers, and expansion of both members’ and the organization’s professional network.

A specific goal of mine is to unify our wonderfully diverse and talented membership behind the 4RS brand. We are comprised of accomplished scientists from numerous disciplines who share the common goal of increasing our skills and experiences outside the lab. But because of our array of backgrounds and busy schedules, membership can fail to offer an integrated sense of community. With initiatives to increase member engagement, events (both professional and social), and marketing, we hope to translate our vision of 4RS’ culture into reality. Please see more of our key upcoming changes and new resources at the end of this newsletter.

The board will be hosting a Town Hall gathering November 29th in Scaife 1101 from 5:30 to 7pm. Please come to share your thoughts on 4RS’ future directions and ask the board any questions you have. For extra incentive, we have hired a photographer to take headshots for all interested members.

I am incredibly grateful for your continued dedication to 4RS’ mission. Your time and participation makes 4RS truly unique. I am honored to serve you all in this position and hope that 4RS membership enables you achieve your professional and entrepreneurial goals.


Christopher Chuckran, C.E.O

Incoming board

We are thrilled to update our readers on everything that’s happened at Fourth River Solutions since the last newsletter in December 2017. First and foremost, we have a brand new executive board led by CEO, Chris Chuckran, who previously served as VP of Business Development. Ethan Bassin and Dylan Royston worked with Chris as Business Development Associates and are now Co-VPs of Business Development. Song-My Hoang is continuing on in her position as CHRO. Emily Russell, Jillian Weeks, Rebecca Gerth and Sherin David served as consultants at 4RS and currently hold the positions of COO, CPDO, CFO and CMO, respectively. We take this opportunity to formally thank the previous members of the board for providing an enormous amount of support to the current members and ensuring a smooth transition.

Thank you 2018 PMs and Teams

4RS completed 12 engagements in total since December 2017. We’ve continued to work closely with the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse through the partnership established in 2017, having completed 7 projects with them since the start of 2017. We appreciate the time put in by the teams staffing engagements over the past year and project managers for providing the time, insight and leadership to those projects.

We completed two recruitment cycles over Fall 2017 and Summer 2018 through which we recruited 33 graduate students and post-doctoral trainees to our organization. This past summer recruitment cycle saw marked changes to the design of Bootcamp 2.0. Addition of a 2-week team-based business case allowed new recruits to exercise effective teamwork and leadership skills while developing consulting methodologies. As a result, new members experienced the team-oriented work culture that is typical of consulting engagements at 4RS and other organizations. We appreciate the efforts put in by previous and current board members for the planning and execution of the training modules during the training process.

Member achievements

Members of 4RS participated in the Randall Family Big Idea competition and represented 4 teams that advanced to the final round. Former 4RS CHRO, Yolandi van der Merwe’s team proposed an ocular injectable therapeutic to treat blindness and won 2nd Prize for the idea. Yolandi graduated earlier this year and is now Senior Consultant at Navigant. Jingyao Wu, previously a 4RS Business Development Associate, graduated this past year and now works as a consultant at McKinsey. Former CFO, Ali Nagle, joined Tempus Labs as Clinical and Research Liason after completing her PhD training.

Client Spotlight

Former client, Heart I/O, has had a number of key successes since 4RS completed a project for them in summer 2017 including - starting phase 1 clinical trials, winning the PDMA Pitch competition, and reaching the finals in numerous additional competitions. Join us in congratulating Heart I/O (and their CEO, Utkars Jain, and CSO, Adam Butchy, who are both currently 4RS members) on these impressive achievements!

Professional Development

We continue to strive to provide high-value career development and networking opportunities to our members through professional development events. We have organized several events this year including workshops ranging from how to deliver an effective elevator pitch to designing an effective business resume. Additional industry-focused informational sessions from successful entrepreneurs, such as PLSG’s Alan West, also provided unique perspective to our membership. We also have recurring fireside chats and happy hours where members of 4RS meet up to discuss topics revolving around 4RS’ business operations. Upcoming sessions will focus on how to serve as an effective PM. In addition, we organize case practice sessions every week for members that are interested or in the process of applying for jobs at consulting firms.