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Six PharmD Graduates in KGI’s Class of 2022 Receive Industry Fellowships

Six graduating students in Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program have received industry fellowships, which prepare graduates for a career in the pharmaceutical industry by providing intensive, hands-on training in drug discovery, development, and commercialization.

Only around 450 openings for fellowships are offered across the country, while about 15,000 students graduate from PharmD programs each year, making it a highly competitive process.

Bernard Tyrrell—associate dean for pharmacy and industry relations and professor of practice for administrative sciences in KGI’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—started KGI’s fellowship program when he came to KGI in 2018. It is now the third-largest program on the West Coast and among the top 10 nationwide.

“For me, it’s more about starting programs at smaller companies that have never had a fellowship program before,” Tyrrell said. “There’s a lot of discovery and development. But companies pick it up right away, and the programs grow.”

In partnership with the Sanofi Specialty Care HQ, Joshua Liu, PharmD ’22, accepted a two-year oncology fellowship in Global Commercial Strategy at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Sanofi is a global healthcare company engaged in the research and development, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to support global pre-launch activities for a drug candidate in lung cancer, and I’m extremely eager to gain hands-on experience executing unbranded and branded marketing tactics that align with the organization’s global brand plan,” Liu said. “I feel like my past experiences have helped prepare me to work cross-functionally to craft strategic messages and develop insights derived from market research and competitive intelligence.”

Also working in oncology is Christy Wong, PharmD ’22, who landed a two-year Worldwide Commercial Development fellowship with Rutgers University/Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) in New Jersey. This fellowship provides an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the BMS Oncology early-stage pipeline and assess business development opportunities for strategic partnerships and licensing.

During this program, fellows will provide commercial input into potential development paths for assets based on unmet needs, competition, and opportunity size. They will also learn to understand customer needs and drivers, and barriers to product adoption.

In partnership with Rutgers Institute for Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowships, Kacey Egusa, PharmD ’22, accepted a two-year U.S. Medical Affairs – Rare Disease Fellowship for Pfizer. Pfizer has dedicated more than two decades of research focusing on rare diseases and has a global portfolio of more than 20 therapies worldwide that treat rare diseases in cardiology, hematology, neurology, and endocrinology.

Fellows will be involved in advisory boards, the medical review committee, congress support, publication planning, competitive-intelligence activities, and medical strategy preparations.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to support an area in medicine that addresses a large unmet need for patients with limited treatment options,” Egusa said. “This fellowship will provide me with the skills and experience needed for a successful and meaningful career in medical affairs. I am excited to work closely with the medical team and the rare disease community to support the advancement of life-changing therapies.”

Partnering with Thomas Jefferson University/Teva Pharmaceuticals for a two-year Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) Fellowship is Carolyn Saba, PharmD ’22. This program provides fellows with real-world experience in global economics and outcomes research principles and applying these principles to research supporting the discovery, development, and commercialization of new drugs.

Saba is excited about the opportunity to obtain a master’s degree in HEOR, which is something that Thomas Jefferson University supports fellows with as a part of their program.

“I thought this would be a unique experience since most of the fellowships in other functional areas do not design their programs this way. I’m grateful to have this opportunity while kickstarting my career in HEOR as a pharmacist,” Saba said. “I am also very excited to relocate to the East Coast and meet many like-minded individuals from different healthcare backgrounds!”

Natalie Rhodes, PharmD ’22, is working in collaboration with USC-AbbVie for a one-year Medical Affairs – Evidence Solutions fellowship. Fellows will partner with the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie to strategize on filling evidence gaps and execute new and ongoing post-marketing clinical research to provide valuable information to physicians, patients, and payers on AbbVie products around the world.

“After doing an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences rotation at AbbVie and experiencing their unique culture, I was hopeful that I’d be able to return after graduation,” Rhodes said. “When I got the call that I’d been offered the fellowship position, I was relieved that my hard work paid off and thrilled to be back at AbbVie. My four years of pharmacy school tugged me in different directions for what I wanted to do post-grad.”

“Now, I have no doubt that pursuing a career within the pharmaceutical industry will be a unique and rewarding experience.”

In partnership with Rutgers University, Nicholas Carreon, PharmD ’22, landed a two-year Medical Information and Medical Strategy fellowship for AstraZeneca’s Respiratory Biologics department. Responsibilities include researching medical literature and evaluating scientific data to develop evidence-based medical global and U.S. content, reviewing advertising and promotional material to ensure scientific accuracy, and understanding the laws required to provide legal and ethical interactions with healthcare professionals.

In their second year, fellows will participate in strategic/launch planning based on the unmet medical needs from the perspectives of patients, providers, and payers. They will also interact with marketing, clinical development, global medical, legal, and regulatory affairs related to U.S. Medical daily activities and special projects.

Tyrrell emphasizes that while a fellowship provides a valuable experience that nearly always leads to an industry position, it is not the only path for a PharmD graduate to obtain a position in the industry.

“I’m a pharmacist, but I was never a fellow,” Tyrrell said. “I just went directly into the industry. So I want students to recognize that a fellowship is one path, but there are other paths.”