Commencement Spotlight: Anh Truong

Meet Anh Truong, PharmD ’17, who pursued a dual PharmD/PhD degree at USC Mann and is graduating with a PhD in molecular pharmacology and toxicology in May 2021. Here, he shares why he transitioned from a career in information technology to one in pharmacy, the advantages of studying pharmaceutical sciences in Los Angeles and gives advice to others interested in dual degree programs.

You used to work in information technology before pursuing your PharmD and PhD degrees. What inspired the career switch?

I love technology and still have an interest in information technology (I still repair electronics, computers and even repair laboratory equipment in our building), but I hit a glass ceiling with no bachelor’s degree. When I went back to school and took undergrad GE courses, I naturally excelled in life sciences. That is when I looked into pharmacy as a career and decided to pursue a PharmD. During my capstone course, a professor reached out to me to do research. I am here now because he gave me an opportunity and showed me how fun research can be.

You received your PharmD degree from USC Mann in 2017. Why did you then decide to pursue a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology at the School?

Before joining the PharmD program, I already knew I wanted to pursue a PhD. I only applied to pharmacy schools that advertised a dual degree program; plus USC was the number one private pharmacy school in the country. While it was a struggle to take PharmD and PhD classes as the same time, the School’s dual degree program allowed me to complete my clinical and research training two years faster than if I had pursued the degrees separately.

What are the advantages of being on a health sciences campus and studying pharmaceutical sciences in a place like Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is a place where everyone wants to be. I enjoy its sunny weather, diverse food options, laid-back vibe and the various entertainment options available here. The location of the USC Health Sciences Campus is convenient itself because it is located just close enough to all the hot spots yet isolated enough to focus on one’s work. Having seen the local community grow, I cannot wait to see what kind of biotechnology hub the area will serve as over the next 10 years.

What will you be doing after graduation?

I am currently applying to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies for scientist or clinical development positions and plan to excel in industry.

You’ll be delivering a message to fellow PhD graduates during the virtual Class of 2021 celebration. What’s your message to the graduating Class of 2021? Any other advice to those who will follow in your footsteps?

The takeaway message to the graduating Class of 2021 is to remember all the people who helped you along your academic career. We might all have different tracks with different goals, but we are tied together as fellow alumni of the School. One advice for those who want to pursue a dual PharmD/PhD degree: It is absolutely necessary for the school to have a fully developed dual degree program with the infrastructure and support from the school, mentors and affiliated hospitals to get the most out of a dual degree, so choose wisely.