Pharmacist-Scientists in Industry and Academia
Christopher J.Molloy, PhD, RPh
Dr. Molloy is dean and professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway.
"So, Chris, maybe you can explain to mewhat exactly a dean of pharmacy does?"This was the response of a senior vicepresident at Johnson & Johnson when Itold him in late 2007 that I would be leavingmy position as the research leader ininflammation and pulmonary diseases torejoin Rutgers University (my pharmacydegree and PhD were from Rutgers). It wasa good question, as my group had recentlyadvanced several new compounds intohuman clinical/preclinical trials and we wereon a bit of a "roll." Because of the many challengesin drug discovery and developmenttoday, however, and the evolving businessenvironment in pharmaceutical healthcare, I viewed my offer to move back toacademia as an opportunity to tackle manyof these issues from a much different andcomplementary perspective. I also relishedthe chance to be involved in the educationof the next generation of pharmacists.
A degree in pharmacy opens manydoors and exciting career trajectories.When I began my career in independentcommunity pharmacy back in the 1970s, Ihad no idea that within a decade I wouldobtain a PhD and multiple opportunitiesin cellular and molecular pharmacologyresearch. I was able to return to graduateschool and supplement my incomewith part-time pharmacy jobs as well as ateaching assistantship. Following graduateschool and a rewarding postdoctoralresearch position at the National CancerInstitute, my background as a pharmacist-scientistoffered many job opportunities.Pharmacist-scientists are especially valuedin the biopharmaceutical industry,where prior clinical pharmacy experienceallows them to apply their broad knowledgeof available pharmacotherapeutics toidentify the key unmet clinical targets thatare the starting points for modern drugdevelopment.
The environment for pharmacist-scientistshas evolved significantly in thepast decade, as drug development costs,regulatory demands, and health economicissues have challenged the pharmaceuticalindustry. Expanded education and policyengagement increasingly led by nonpartisanacademic centers is needed. Accordingly,there are new opportunities forindustrial pharmacist-scientists to returnto academia, and for the "industry?academiaequilibrium" to be better balanced.Overall, I think the future remains brightbut evolving for pharmacists who chooseto work in industry. Advanced training, inthe sciences or other disciplines, allows foropportunities that could span both industrialand academic pharmacy. My adviceto any young pharmacist is: explore youroptions—so many exist, and our dynamichealth care industry needs them all.