Samantha Finstad, PH.D.


Samantha L. Finstad, Ph.D.Dr. Samantha Finstad serves as a Program Director at the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Office of the Director, Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI). In this capacity, she participates in the organization, development, and evaluation of CSSI initiatives and works to facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations among researchers, NCI and NIH colleagues, and external partners. In addition to her role as Program Director, she also serves as a Senior Health Science Policy Advisor with the President’s Cancer Panel, where she works with the Panel’s Members and Executive Secretary to develop their recommendations and reports.

Prior to joining CSSI in 2020, Dr. Finstad served as a Senior Health Science Policy Analyst within the NCI Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials, where she was involved with the Clinical Trials Reporting Program (CTRP), optimizing cancer clinical trials searching, and the Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee (CTAC). She previously was the Section Chief for Strategy, Plans, and Programs, as well as Acting Section Chief for Communication and Technology at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at the Defense Health Agency.

Dr. Finstad is an immunologist by training and has extensive experience in science policy, science writing, scientific planning, portfolio analysis, and program evaluation. She came to the NCI Office of Science Policy and Assessment in 2010 through the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship program. Prior to her selection as an AAAS Fellow, Dr. Finstad was a postdoctoral fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard University, where her work focused on HIV vaccine research. She received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Tulane University where her research focused on the impact of retroviral pathogenesis during hematopoiesis.