IPhO Member's Journey
Company: Halozyme Therapeutics
Current Role: CMC Specialist, Regulatory Affairs
Alma Mater: Touro University, California, Class of 2016
In 2011, my 12-year career as a microbiologist for the largest brewing company in the Pacific Northwest unknowingly came to an abrupt end. Changes in the small company I joined in 1999 that had a top 10 national ranking in 2016, manifested in layoffs. As the layoffs gathered momentum, it was my signal to leave and begin a year long process looking at alternative career options where I could leverage my 12-years of service in aseptic manufacturing. I had spent my career focused in the life sciences after graduating from the University of California Santa Cruz. I was 42 years old and married for 8 years to a PhD scientist who had been employed as a MSL in the pharmaceutical industry since 2003. My sister-in-law, a PhD clinician, was also employed as a MSL. After numerous discussions with family members, I began to explore the application process to pharmacy school in the fall of 2011 and fully consider the prospect of earning a PharmD degree. Ultimately, I considered a doctoral degree in pharmacy as the best opportunity to leverage my 20-years of experience in healthcare and aseptic manufacturing. I believed the best fit for my unconventional background was the School of Pharmacy at Touro University California.
Company and Department: Astellas, Medical Affairs, Americas
Current Role: Associate Director, Medical Communications
Alma Mater: Midwestern University, Chicago College of Pharmacy, Class of 2005
During pharmacy school, I developed a strong interest in clinical pharmacy and academia. In addition to completing the standard coursework, I served as the liaison between our class and the faculty to facilitate communication of course concerns and questions. I also collaborated with a faculty and a pharmacy resident specializing in psychiatry on a research project where I assisted with screening the study patients against the inclusion criteria. I began to evaluate career pathways that would help me prepare for academic pharmacy.
Upon graduation, I participated in a PGY1 residency at the North Chicago VA Medical Center in North Chicago. After completing the residency, I accepted a faculty position at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy and practiced as a clinical pharmacist in the Internal Medicine unit at the North Chicago VA Medical Center. I gained valuable direct patient care experience, precepted pharmacy students and residents, and taught in the pharmacotherapy course at the University. To further advance my professional development, I also obtained a board certification for pharmacotherapy (BPS).
Company and Department: Baxalta, Business Operations
Current Role: Senior Director
Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
When asked how I got to where I am today, I reflect that many of the roles in my career were not even an idea in someone’s mind when I left pharmacy school. My background in Pharmacy has provided me with strong scientific acumen and a solid understanding of business, and I have found that the pharmaceutical industry is the perfect place to bring these attributes together.
After graduating, I completed a fellowship at East Carolina University in Geriatrics and later became Senior Fellow in Pharmacogeriatrics at Duke University, while also working as adjunct faculty for the University of North Carolina. This was an amazing opportunity to work with the best and the brightest clinicians and researchers. Upon completing this work I transitioned to a faculty role at the University of Illinois – Chicago, where I continued refining my clinical and teaching skills. I enjoyed working with students and patients, but I was always looking to make a greater impact on patients’ lives. I saw that entering the pharmaceutical and biotech industry was an opportunity to impact patients more broadly. I cannot emphasize enough the value pharmacists with clinical practice experience bring to the industry. The foundation of clinical experience, teaching, and research are a tremendous asset in my career.
Company and Department: Becton Dickinson and Company, Clinical Marketing
Current Role: Clinical Education Specialist, Diabetes Care, Canada
Alma Mater: MCPHS University, Class of 2013
As I entered pharmacy school, I always thought that I would be working in a position at a retail pharmacy just like all of the other pharmacists in my family had done. Some of them had ventured into the field of hospitals and long term care, but industry was not an option that I had ever considered, until my first professional year of pharmacy school. At that time we were introduced to the different fields that a pharmacist could work in and the idea of working for a pharmaceutical company captured my attention. I could not believe the multitude of job opportunities available in the industry, and how much of an impact pharmacists could have working there.
After graduation I was fortunate enough to obtain a role as a fellow in Global Medical Affairs at Becton, Dickinson, and Company through the MCPHS University Fellowship Program. This unique fellowship allowed me to not only be in the industry, but also to practice once a week in a clinic under an academic preceptor. Because it was a medical device company and not a pharmaceutical company, I was able to learn the differences between drug approvals and medical device approvals. I had never heard of 510K approvals or CE mark processes and was intrigued at how the medical device field differed. I also had the opportunity to sit on promotional review committees and work in new product development and clinical trials. Shadowing MSLs in the field and then eventually being able to deliver presentations myself was also very exciting. Throughout my two years, I established a working relationship with endocrinologists and diabetes educators worldwide. I also was able to establish professional relationships with BD colleagues from around the world.
Upon completion of the fellowship program, I didn’t actually think I would end up in charge of all of the clinical needs for BD’s diabetes care in Canada. Because this is a regional rather than a global role, there is no medical affairs division and so I became part of the marketing team. Marketing is more of the business side of the company, something I was not exposed to in my previous role. Since I have started working, I have been exposed to financials, budgets, and working on business plans which is an asset to my position. I am still working on medical affairs tasks including reading and working on clinical trials, providing education to the sales team, attending and planning conferences, presenting at the national sales team meetings, heading up the social media content, and working with marketing agencies across Canada to create collateral for the team. Although it is very busy, I know that this regional experience will really help me in my future endeavors.
I’m not sure if my future here is in Canada, or whether I might move back to the states or to a global role. I just might say that I know that my move ‘internationally” has given me invaluable experience that I will be able to apply to my future roles. I am one of the first pharmacists to work in the BD Canada office and I am showing that there is a lot of learning that other countries have to do about PharmDs and fellowship programs. I consider myself fortunate to have completed a fellowship program that helped prepare me for a position outside the United States.
Company and Department: Abbvie, US Medical Affairs
Current Role: Senior Medical Science Liaison
Alma Mater: Florida A&M University, Class of 2007
My industry journey began with an internship at AstraZeneca the summer before my third year of pharmacy school. I pursued the internship after my older brother (who did not have a medical background) obtained a position as a sales representative with a leading pharmaceutical company. He told me that pharmacists worked at his organization to provide medical training and support for their representatives. I had no idea that these types of roles existed for pharmacists and was intrigued by the thought of being able to use my clinical knowledge to educate non-medical industry employees. I discovered that AstraZeneca offered a program specifically geared toward exposing pharmacy students to various functional areas. It was during my AZ marketing internship that I learned about other departments such as Medical Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Company and Department: Synageva BioPharma, Commercial Operations
Current Role: Senior Regional Business Director
Alma Mater: Northeastern University, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Boston; Class of 1988
Having grown up in an extended family of pharmacists, pharmacy was initially a natural career decision for me. I will be forever grateful that one of my pharmacy professors suggested that I apply for a summer internship working for a pharmaceutical company. I remember the morning I received a call from Mr. Joe Dilger at Parke-Davis asking me if I would like to participate in their summer internship program, which I graciously accepted. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that phone call would change my career path forever.
Company and Department: GlaxoSmithKline, Commercial Capabilities
Current Role: Scientific Knowledge Manager
Alma Mater: University of the Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Class of 2006
Like many other industry pharmacists, my journey is a winding road. My career path has made gentle turns as I learned about myself and the keys to realizing satisfaction in my work. During my final year of school I identified that a “clinical role” intrigued me most and I set out to complete a residency.
Following graduation, I started a general practice residency at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware. I spent time in a number of different therapeutic areas and completed research and other longitudinal projects. During the research aspect of my residency, I gained experience in conducting research in cardiovascular disease. I enjoyed it very much and worked hard to complete the research project in time to be able to fully describe and leverage it during research fellowship program interviews.
Company and Department: Novartis Drug Safety and Epidemiology
Current Role: Drug Safety Specialist
Alma Mater: Rutgers University, Class of 2014
My industry journey started like many during my rotational experiences, but even prior to that my decision to become actively involved in student organizations enabled me to gain key insights into leadership that paved the way for me to become a successful professional upon graduation. Serving in various e-board positions and planning committee events helped me gain experience and grow as a young professional.
As a Chair and Advisor to the SNPhA Operation Immunization initiative, I developed skills such as problem solving, collaboration, and flexibility. As Public Relations Chair and Vice President of a new student organization on campus, ACCP, I learned the importance of perseverance, time management, and most importantly networking, which has continued to pay significant dividends at each step along the way so far.
Company and Department: Seattle Genetics, Sales
Current Role: Senior Oncology Account Manager, Miami and Puerto Rico
Alma Mater: Rutgers University, Class of 2009
Early on as a student pharmacist, the ability to blend science and business attracted me towards a career in the pharmaceutical industry. During my time at Rutgers I pursued this interest by taking every opportunity I had to gain exposure to the industry and connect with professionals who had chosen this career path. As my days as a student neared an end, I felt I had put myself in a good position to hit the ground running after school as a freshly minted industry pharmacist.
Unfortunately, I initially was not able to obtain any industry fellowship or full time offers as the competition had reached such a high level. I found myself approaching graduation with more uncertainty than ever regarding where I would start my professional career. Nonetheless, I continued to leverage my network and kept looking for industry opportunities. A month later, a friend alerted me to a brand new Drug Safety & Surveillance Fellowship at J&J. I jumped on this late breaking fellowship opportunity and ultimately was extended an offer which I gladly accepted.
Company and Department: Novo Nordisk, Diabetes Field Medical Affairs
Current Role: Medical Liaison
Alma Maters: University of Minnesota, Class of 1994 (PharmD) and Arizona State University, Class of 2003 (MBA)
My path to the pharmaceutical industry demonstrates that you can arrive at your destination by taking different routes, and by traveling at different speeds.
Like many young adults, I changed my original major after my freshman year (from engineering to pharmacy) at the University of Minnesota. At that point in my pharmacy education, the biggest decision that my classmates and I faced was whether to obtain a Bachelor of Science or Doctor of Pharmacy degree. I decided to pursue a PharmD, which required one additional year. I graduated in 1994 and elected not to pursue a residency or fellowship which were not emphasized at that time.