Chirag Shah, PharmD, RPh
Company and Department: Arena Pharmaceuticals, Program Management
Current Role: AD, Global Program Management (R&D)
Alma Mater: Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Class of 2014
My career path has been filled with curiosity and opportunity. But before I dive into the details, I think it’s important to appreciate the tremendous amount of opportunities available for pharmacists—in hospital, retail, managed care, or the pharmaceutical industry. No matter what role you pursue, at the end of the day, your doctorate in pharmacy will serve you well and provide you with a strong scientific acumen. The beauty of the pharmaceutical industry is that there are countless opportunities that require you to apply your scientific knowledge and ultimately learn to develop a solid understanding of the business.
IPhO would like to thank Nina Johnson, New England Regional Student Officer and PharmD Candidate 2019, for leading the development of this valuable student resource.
The Rutgers Professional Industry Fellowship (RPIF) program will be hosting its annual Fellowship Information and Networking Day (FIND) on November 16, 2018. Hundreds of fourth-year pharmacy students from across the country attend this event to learn more about the nationally recognized fellowship program.
The event is broken down into three sessions: a didactic session, an information session and Q&A panel, and a networking session.
Members of the IPhO National Fellows Council (NFC) and leadership team have provided their FIND insight—including how to prepare for the fellowship application and interviewing processes—to help students make the most of their time at the event.
Featured Fellow: Dilpreet Kaur, PharmD
Fellowship Sponsor Company: USC/Allergan
Function/Discipline: Medical Affairs- Global Phase IV
Fellowship Years: 2018—2019
Alma Mater: University of Cincinnati, College of Pharmacy, Class of 2018
I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist at a young age. However, figuring out my niche in the field took some exploration. During my first year of pharmacy school, a pharmacist came to campus to speak and he introduced me to industry pharmacy. His talk sparked my interest and from there, I began to research more about what industry pharmacy was, types of fellowships available, and where I would fit best. Like many other schools, my college of pharmacy was better versed in information relating to residency or community pharmacy. It became my responsibility to discover what industry opportunities existed and to take advantage of them.
Featured Fellow: Liam McGuey, PharmD
Fellowship Sponsor Company: MCPHS/Sanofi Genzyme
Function/Discipline: US Medical Affairs/Medical Science Liaison (MSL)
Fellowship Years: 2018—2020
Alma Mater: Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS), Class of 2018
Like many pharmacy students, I did not enter pharmacy school with the goal of pursuing a career in industry. Although pharmacy school prepares students for several different careers, often the pharmaceutical industry and fellowship programs are left behind. I learned about industry through friends and past fellows and was able to secure two APPE rotations at Bayer and Sanofi Genzyme during my P4 year. In fact, I met my eventual Sanofi Genzyme APPE preceptor at an ACPHS IPhO networking event my P3 year, where she agreed to work with me as a student. Two years later, I am living in Boston as a Sanofi Genzyme fellow. Talk about a small world!
Featured Fellow: Andy Szeto, PharmD
Fellowship Sponsor Company: United Therapeutics (UNC)
Function/Discipline: Clinical Research & Drug Development
Fellowship Years: 2018—2020
Alma Mater: University of the Pacific, Class of 2018
My pharmacy school had an accelerated program, which meant I completed the typical 4 year pharmacy curriculum in 3 years. Consequently, we had no summer breaks, so my industry knowledge was limited by not having the time to intern at a biopharmaceutical company.
I always believed that I would pursue a traditional career path through residency. However, all of that changed when I began working on a clinical trial, spearheaded by a professor at my school, and my interest in clinical research and industry grew immensely.
This opportunity, along with my involvement with IPhO, solidified my decision to pursue a career in industry. Obtaining a fellowship in clinical research was the next logical step for me.
I’m happy to have found a career path that combines my passion for novel research with the ability to apply my clinical knowledge. I look forward to all the new skills I’ll learn during my fellowship.
Featured Fellow: Tanya Chaudhri, PharmD
Fellowship Sponsor Company: UCB/IPhO
Function/Discipline: Global Regulatory Strategy
Fellowship Years: 2018—2020
Alma Mater: University of Illinois at Chicago - College of Pharmacy, Class of 2018
Pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry comes easy to some, but can be a discovery process for others. For me, I felt it was a little of both. I knew I wanted to pursue a non-traditional career path and I knew I wanted it to be in industry, but the discovery for me was deciding which function was the best fit. Industry provides opportunities for pharmacists to grow exponentially, which is what initially intrigued me and drew me in. Regardless of which company you choose, you will be faced with challenges and opportunities that will require the scientific knowledge gained in pharmacy school, and will allow you to apply skills such as critical thinking and strategic planning. The growth acquired from these opportunities can completely change the dynamic of a pharmacist's career. After learning more about industry I came to understand that not everything is black and white, and pharmacists have been and can continue to be trained to create the grey that is necessary to ensure medications in development are truly meeting an unmet global need.
Sarica Vieda Klein, PharmD
Company and Department: Sanofi Genzyme, Medical Affairs
Current Role: Medical Science Liaison
Alma Mater: University of Southern California, Class of 2006
After earning an undergraduate degree in biology, I started working at Amgen in the preclinical research department. It was there that I discovered my love for working in the pharmaceutical industry. More than anything, I enjoyed being surrounded by innovation and cutting-edge science, where the ultimate goal was simple: to help patients. I was encouraged by a PhD coworker to continue my education and I decided to pursue a doctorate of pharmacy. I was admitted to USC pharmacy school, where I spent every day gaining knowledge and growing more appreciative of my education. With the help of two other classmates, I started the Student Industry Association where pharmacy students could learn about careers in industry.
Niren Shah, PharmD, MBA
Company and Department: PTC Therapeutics, Business Operations
Current Role: Senior Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
Alma Mater: University of Florida, Class of 2010
During my first rotation, I came up with what I thought was a great idea for an article. I spent a number of hours researching the topic and finally mustered up the courage to share the idea with one of my professors, Dr. Epstein. While he appreciated the enthusiasm, he gave me a particularly skeptical look when I told him I would like to publish the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine. We ultimately collaborated on a different project, which became the start of a great relationship that would end in a journey to industry and beyond.
I then decided to pursue a fellowship at the East Coast Institute for Research (ECIR) with Drs. Epstein and Choksi. My two years would be spent teaching, researching (phase 2-4), and publishing manuscripts. ECIR also had a separate arm that consulted for a wide range of pharmaceutical companies like AZ and Novartis. This was where I got my first exposure to industry and I absolutely fell in love.
Mudit Verma, PharmD
Company and Department: Accelovance, Inc., Medical Writing
Current Role: Medical Writer
Alma Mater: University of Maryland, Class of 2018
Throughout pharmacy school, I sought a non-traditional career path and perceived the pharmaceutical industry to be a world of endless excitement and innovation. The core of my pharmacy training was clinically-focused, so I gained skills that would help me prosper in industry.
I spent most of my extracurricular time engaging in international pharmacy enterprises by traveling to six different countries throughout pharmacy school: Honduras, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Singapore, and Australia. My key strategy for retaining the clinical skills I acquired in each location was to thoroughly document my experiences and reflections and share them with my professional network. I sought out opportunities to publish my reflections via a variety of pharmacy platforms and learned very quickly that I enjoyed writing – so much so that I would then pivot into industry by showcasing my communication and articulation skills.
Heidi McClelland, PharmD, BCACP
Company and Department: Pfizer, Medical Affairs
Current Role: Medical Outcomes Specialist
Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin–Madison, Class of 2004
When I entered pharmacy school in 2000, an industry career was not on my radar. I was working as a pharmacy technician at a large retail chain and planned to continue my career there as a pharmacist. During my fourth year of pharmacy school, I was in a 6-week rotation with a pharmacist working in Medical Affairs at Pfizer. This was when I first became fascinated by the idea of an industry career path.
Despite my fascination, I did continue to work as a retail pharmacist after graduation. I worked in various locations and positions, including a staff pharmacist and pharmacy manager. Although I enjoyed working closely and directly with patients, I realized after 7 years that I was ready to make a career change.