Mona Vaidya PharmD student

KGI Student Mona Vaidya Lands Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship

Mona Vaidya, a Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) candidate, has been accepted into the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program. This two-year industry-based program partners with leading pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies. These pharmacists are provided with hands-on industry experience, preparing them to become highly marketable professionals.

Vaidya, PharmD ’20, knew early on that she was interested in a career in industry. During her first year at KGI, she had an opportunity to visit Shire Pharmaceuticals as part of her introduction to industry experience. After learning more about the role pharmacists play in industry, Vaidya was set to pursue a career that would have a global impact.

While in pharmacy school, Vaidya secured a summer internship in Global Development and Operations at Pharmacyclics in Silicon Valley. This experience is where she realized that she was intrigued by the drug development process and clinical trials. When she was contacted by Pharmacyclics the following summer to do another internship within Global Development Operations, she took the opportunity without hesitation.

“Nothing compared to receiving hands-on training during my internships,” Vaidya said. “I gained access to one-on-one meetings, executive level communication, and valuable mentorship.”

During her fourth year, Vaidya completed a three-month rotation at AveXis, a gene therapy company that was acquired by Novartis in 2018.

“I was proud to contribute to Zolgensma, a product that helps infants and children who were diagnosed with a rare genetic disease,” Vaidya said. “The positive impact I saw on these children’s lives solidified my decision about entering the pharmaceutical industry and helping people all over the world.”

After gaining hand-on industry experience and talking to her mentors, Vaidya decided that she wanted to pursue a fellowship within the clinical trials space. In December, she attended the ASHP Conference in Las Vegas, where she had rigorous fellowship interviews with pharmaceutical companies each day for about four days. For the final stage of the process, applicants attended onsite interviews at the companies.

Vaidya ultimately accepted an offer from Novartis in New Jersey, which is part of the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship program. The fellowship is a highly competitive program, awarding around 150 positions from a pool of 800-900 applicants.

Vaidya’s fellowship will be in Global Development & Trial Management: Cardiovascular, Renal, & Metabolism. Within this position, she will be serving as a key member of the trial teams where she will provide operational input to worldwide studies.

“After meeting everyone at the on-site interview, I knew the Novartis fellowship was the perfect fit for me,” Vaidya said.

“I get to practice and combine the two areas that I love the most: clinical trials and project management.”

Novartis has one of the most competitive pipelines, with over 200 projects in clinical development. The company uses artificial intelligence and gene therapy to treat a wide range of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.

Vaidya welcomes the opportunity to work with a large company with a diverse portfolio. She also looks forward to coordinating with people around the world, learning their culture as well as the regulatory environment specific to different regions.

Vaidya credits her education at KGI, her industry mentors, Associate Dean for Pharmacy and Industry Relations Bernard Tyrrell, and her family for her success.

“KGI provides students valuable insight and access to the pharmaceutical industry—something that I have fully appreciated,” Vaidya said. “We can shape our lives and careers the way we want to, and our school provides us those opportunities, but it’s up to us to go for them.”

When discussing the impact she wanted to have, Vaidya said that as a pharmacist, she is first and foremost an advocate for patients.

“Therefore, my career goals will always be centered around patients,” Vaidya said. “I hope to develop new capabilities and contribute to innovative solutions for complex health problems. This fellowship will allow me to foster my strengths to ultimately make a global impact on patients’ lives through the pharmaceutical industry.”