Scientific Advisory Board

IFER represents a unique opportunity to advance better, more ethical science by relying on the expertise and dedication of a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of scientists from academia, industry and government to select the best possible projects to support.

The lifeblood of any organization is the people who consistently support and guide its efforts to ensure that it stays on course with its principles. These scientists who have volunteered their time and expertise inspire and guide the mission of IFER. As professionals in their areas of expertise, they represent the highest principles of science for discovery, knowledge and understanding.

The Scientific Advisory Board of IFER reviews the proposals for the selection and funding of the Graduate Student Fellowship Program. They also agree to mentor select graduate students to ensure that the funding IFER allocates to these projects is properly used. Members of the SAB have also represented IFER at science conferences, authored articles, and promoted the mission of IFER among their colleagues in science.


Nancy Douglas, Ph.D. earned her B.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado and then participated in studies of photoreceptor proteins in plants at the Plant Gene Expression Center of the University of California, Berkeley and of HIV and SIV protein structure/function in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry of the University of California, San Francisco. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology from Cornell University examining DNA replication in budding yeast. She then worked for 10 years in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell exploring how temperature and pH changes influence disease and microbial community dynamics in Caribbean corals. During that time, Dr. Douglas also acted as a scientific consultant to the Regulatory Testing Division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reviewing and commenting on proposed US and European chemical testing protocols/plans involving animals. She currently works in the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder developing optimized fluorescent proteins for biological imaging and detection.


John W. Harbell, Ph.D. serves as the current chairperson of the IFER Scientific Advisory Board and is President of the Society for In Vitro Biology. He earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Most recently he was the Principal Scientist at Mary Kay, Inc. and was responsible for directing pre-clinical and clinical evaluations and performing final safety clearance on cosmetic ingredients. He served as an internal and external consultant on the use of in vitro methods for preclinical safety and efficacy testing. Dr. Harbell partnered with external collaborators in bringing modern toxicological methods to the regulatory arena in China. He now serves as an independent consultant in product safety assessment with special emphasis on non-whole animal methods.

Dr. Harbell was co-founder, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, Inc., where he provided scientific direction for laboratory-based programs and developed and designed in vitro bioassay programs for corporate clients to evaluate toxicology and efficacy. Dr. Harbell has also served on extramural panels (ECVAM Ocular Irritation Task Force and OECD Test Guideline task forces) supporting the promotion of in vitro methods in regulatory applications. He has been an active member and officer of the Society for In Vitro Biology where he has recently served as president and is an associate editor for their journal. He has an impressive list of published articles. Dr. Harbell retired from the USAR in 2001 after a distinguished military career, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


Pamela Osenkowski, Ph.D. is a Science Advisor for the National Anti-Vivisection Society and joined the IFER SAB in 2012. Dr. Osenkowski earned her B.S. in Biology at the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at Wayne State University. She conducted her postdoctoral studies in Alzheimer’s disease at Harvard Medical School and later obtained a faculty position at Michigan State University-College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Biology Department at Loyola University Chicago, where her teaching efforts are focused in the areas of genetics and cellular biology.


Sherry L. Ward, PhD, MBA, EMS, is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland Global Campus and a Consultant at BioTred Solutions.

Dr. Ward has many years of experience as a scientific grant reviewer for various private and federal grant programs and was honored to serve as a proposal reviewer for the final year of the NIST Advanced Technology Program.

Dr. Ward holds a BS and PhD in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania and Michigan State Universities, respectively, and has conducted research in various fields, including vascular cell biology, prostaglandin enzymology, antibody and protein chemistry, molecular immunology, human ocular cell biology, and in vitro toxicology.

As a Staff Scientist at the Gillette Company in the 1990’s, Dr. Ward developed and characterized the first human conjunctival epithelial cell lines and developed an extensive program of industry-academic research collaborations to study human models and mechanisms of eye irritation. She also developed and managed the first prospectively planned interlaboratory validation study based on ICCVAM guidelines, which assessed the performance of the HCE-T human cell-based corneal model for predicting eye irritation. Although the results were very promising, the company submitted only the pre-validation results to ICCVAM. Several similar corneal models now have OECD Test Guidelines. While working in ocular toxicology, Dr. Ward served on several ICCVAM peer review panels, was a member of the ILSI-HESI Animal Alternatives Task Force, organized and participated in a number of ARVO research symposia, and presented and published in this area. She has also published numerous online articles on the animal alternatives website AltTox.org.