To Market, To Market

USC students in the School’s PharmD program have an opportunity to explore an industry career by taking the elective, “Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization.”  The culminating activity of the course is a team-based competition to develop and present a comprehensive plan for a new pharmaceutical agent.

“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,” says Edward Lieskovan, PharmD, MBA, adjunct assistant professor who coordinates the elective. “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.”

This year’s class was tasked with creating a plan for late stage development and commercialization for a new agent to treat non-small cell lung cancer. Each team presented their plan before a panel of judges from industry and academia. Presentations ran about 20 minutes and were followed by questions from the judges.

Teams are set up to mirror the likely positions in a company that would be responsible for this kind of project. Team members filled the following roles: chief financial officer, chief medical officer, chief science officer, senior vice president of clinical development, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, vice president of international relations and vice president of marketing and sales. Each member addressed their area of responsibility from the perspective of the new pharmaceutical agent.

The winning team was led by Karen Kowalski as the senior vice president of clinical development. Others on the team include Timothy Liu, Anet Melkomian, Christy Harutunian, Derrick Kwok, Dorothy Jin and Heidi Chung. The Pharmaceutical Commercialization Case Competition was held on April 27 in the Aresty Conference Center on the Health Sciences Campus.

“The students’ presentation really show how the course supercharges them by developing critical technical and business capabilities that are highly valued by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries,” said Lieskovan.