Students Explore an Industry Career

A doctor of pharmacy degree opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities – from community pharmacy to clinical care to the pharmaceutical/biotech industries. Students considering an industry career can get a head start by taking the elective, “Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization,” offered each spring.

“Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are constantly seeking PharmD graduates to join their dynamic teams,” said Ed Lieskovan, PharmD ’85, MBA, an adjunct assistant professor who coordinates the elective. “This course supercharges our students’ education by helping them develop critical technical and business capabilities that are highly valued by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.”

George Tolomiczenko (USC), Duane Mauzey (Allergan) and Dinoo Daewar (Amgen)

During the semester long course, students work on teams to create a comprehensive plan for the late stage development and commercialization of a new pharmaceutical agent. Student teams then present their plans before a group of pharmaceutical industry experts during the School’s annual “Pharmaceutical Commercialization Case Competition” which is scheduled for April 27 this year.

To provide students with a relevant and up-to-date understanding of the complex pharmaceutical commercialization process, the course features weekly lectures from industry experts. Lecture topics cover topics including clinical development, safety and regulation, patent and intellectual property strategy and lifecycle management. The course also emphasizes personal communication and team dynamics – all critical skills for success in today’s fast-paced, collaborative work environment.

“By the end of the course, we want students to fully understand the high stakes business and scientific process that companies go through when bringing a new compound to market,” said Lieskovan. “And we also want them to know how vitally important it is to be able to successfully work on a team and be a good collaborator.”

David Bruhn (GlaxoSmithKline)

During a recent class session, Harry Varav, director of medical information for Amgen, encouraged the students to seek out 6-week rotations in industry to “get your foot in the door and make initial connections.” David Bruhn, PharmD/MBA ’02, manager of US Health Outcomes for GlaxoSmithKline, told students that their emotional intelligence – that ability to work on a team – is very important.

“Right now, in this class, you’re working on a team,” said George Tolomiczenko, administrative director of the interdisciplinary USC Health, Technology and Engineering. “Shine in your role on that team and recognize that you can’t do everything on the team.”

Rosemarie Christopher (MEIRxRS)

Lieskovan and his colleagues, Charlie Stark, PharmD ’82, senior vice president of research and development at Emmaus Medical, and Rosemarie Christopher, president and CEO of MEIRxRS and a member of the School’s Board of Councilors, developed the course more than a decade ago. Their efforts were complemented by support and expert input from Associate Dean Fred Weissman and Director of the International Center for Regulatory Science Frances Richmond.

“At Allergan, like other companies, all work is done in teams,” said Duane Mauzey, DRSc ’12, a manager of scientific affairs at Allergan. “Collaboration is one of our highest cultural values. If you can’t work in a team, you can’t work in industry.”

The course also gives students an opportunity to develop professional and mentorship relationships with the many lecturers who visit the class throughout the semester. Christopher also matches up industry professionals with students for mock phone interviews, giving them experience in this integral part of the screening process for many jobs.

Students interested in industry may also contact the School’s (LInC) which is comprised of alumni and friends who work to introduce students to careers in the pharmaceutical/biotech industries. Also, the School’s industry-focused groups for students, including the USC student chapter of the Student Industry Association and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.