KGI symposium for students

School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Students Expand Network at IPhO Symposium

On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences hosted the Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO) Western Regional Symposium.

The program began with opening remarks from KGI’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Samit Shah and Associate Dean of Pharmacy and Industry Relations Bernard Tyrrell.

“The event brought together representatives from top biotechnology companies to explore the career opportunities for PharmD students,” Tyrrell said. “Representatives from eight pharmacy schools attended the event. Students gained knowledge of the trends, challenges, and opportunities that they will encounter as future industry leaders.”

In addition to KGI, the other schools represented were Loma Linda University, West Coast University, Western University of Health Sciences, California Northstate University, Roseman University of Health Sciences, University of the Pacific, and the University of Southern California.

In the day’s first session, the attendees enjoyed a keynote presentation from Amgen’s Director of Global Scientific Communications Stacey Soares. After the keynote, the next presenters included: PTC Therapeutics Senior Medical Science Liaison Niren Shah, Allergan’s Senior Analyst in Regulatory Affairs Philip Armendi, and Allergan’s Associate Director of Early Development Hovik Gukasyan. A final educational session was given by Ken Wong, director of health economics and outcomes research at Novartis Oncology.

“We had speakers from three different functional areas speak to us about the role they play as a pharmacist within a pharmaceutical company,” said Sona Patel, KGI PharmD ‘20. “The three functional areas consisted of: Medical Affairs, Regulatory Affairs, and Health Economics Outcomes and Research.”

Also in attendance to represent IPhO was Matthew Schmidt, program manager in regulatory affairs at Genentech.  Schmidt also moderated the Fellows Panel, an interactive session where two current fellows and three incoming fellows answered questions from students.

The group of panelists included: Tara Alire, clinical and regulatory development program associate at Edwards Lifesciences; Grigor Abelian, postdoctoral fellow of clinical pharmacology—immunology and metabolism at Allergan; Joanne Vo, a P-4 student at the University of the Pacific; Andy Szeto, a P-4 student at the University of the Pacific; and Michael Soliman, a P-4 student at the KGI School of Pharmacy.

Students in the panel have accepted fellowship positions around the country and were eager to share their knowledge on the fellowship application process with student attendees.

Throughout the day, KGI students were able to network with colleagues at other schools as well as pharmacists already working in the field.

“To finish the day, the fellows panel was an enriching session for many students,” Patel said. “The fellows helped answer questions about pursuing an industry fellowship post-pharmacy school.”