There are so many different types of careers within the field of pharmacy—from research and drug development to pharmacy informatics! To highlight some of the more unique career settings in the industry, we’re introducing a new page on our website—Novel Pharmacy Practice Settings—where you can explore these unique career pathways.
In addition to learning more about unique pathways on our new webpage, we’ll also be featuring pharmacists who work in these unique settings on our blog. Today we’re excited to spotlight Kimberley Brown, Pharm.D.!
Dr. Brown is the National Field Director for Janssen Infectious Diseases & Vaccines. The following is a look into how Kimberley got into her role, leading medical strategy development for field-based medical teams and overseeing development for the broader organization.
Please describe your novel practice setting. What makes your career path unique?
I have been in the pharmaceutical industry since 2007 and have been in various roles involving medical affairs and research and development.
I joined the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson in 2007 as a Medical Science Liaison from the Rainbow Center for Women, Children, and Families in Jacksonville, Florida, where I served as an HIV Clinical Specialist and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida School of Pharmacy.
Prior to my current role, I served as Scientific Director for Janssen Research and Development, leading two large Phase III trials and several Phase I studies. From 2015 through Jan 2018, I served as the U.S. Medical Director for the HIV franchise. Before that, I served as Associate Medical Director of U.S. Medical Affairs, Infectious Diseases, where I worked on both the HCV and HIV clinical teams, leading efforts on research trials, as well as product launch activities. I was also the company’s Pharmacovigilance Officer and served as Associate Director of Training with responsibilities for the Virology Medical Science Liaison team.
What led you to this career path? What steps did you take?
I was the nerdy kid who wanted a microscope for Christmas. When I was 10, I remember Dr. David Ho was the Times Man of the Year for discovering AZT, and I was just fascinated by it. For me, studying HIV and hepatitis was the perfect combination of my interests in internal medicine and infectious disease.
From there, my infectious diseases clinical rotation at Moses Cone really set my infectious diseases career in motion—notably, my time at the HIV clinic. I saw that most people coming into the HIV clinic looked like me and were my age at the time. That formulated my ‘why.’ We saw huge health disparities and a lack of access to care. Since then, we’ve seen the HIV epidemic continue, but treatment has evolved. Back then, we were trying to keep people alive; now, we’ve moved on to more novel therapies to manage this chronic disease.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Right now, during COVID-19, there’s a lot of focus on medical strategy and building teams. We’re in the process of hiring a new Medical Science Liaison vaccines team that will focus on providing medical information about our vaccines portfolio, driving innovation. Our community liaison team will educate and impact how we can connect to communities. I am spending a lot of time strategizing, collaborating, and driving innovation.
Describe the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your novel practice role.
Over my career, the most impactful thing was leading an HIV pregnancy study. It gave pregnant women an option to manage their HIV that has proven safe and effective (especially in patients with multi-class resistance. Further, these data showed no mother-to-child transmission, which has impacted lives around the world.
My previous roles have been focused on data and research. However, my current role has posed a new and interesting challenge—developing subject matter experts and strategic leaders.
Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.
Part of the most challenging portion is balancing the needs of health care providers in the community with the business.
How can someone learn more about this unique practice setting and the career opportunities it presents for pharmacists?
I would encourage those interested in a similar role to reach out to those in the pharmaceutical industry. Take advantage of any internships or experiential opportunities. Call us, network with us, shadow us.
What advice would you give to a current student pharmacist who is interested in pursuing a similar type of practice role in the future?
Express your interest early and often. Take on projects that seem interesting as well as those that don’t. Each experience will allow you to build your skill set and your network.
What general advice would you give to a high school or college student who is interested in pursuing a pharmacy career?
Make sure that you’re prepared by speaking with folks in the profession and have a true understanding of the various realms of pharmacy. Don’t underestimate your potential. And when faced with challenges or closed doors, keep top of mind, ‘why not me?’ Continue moving one step forward at a time.
Share a brief story about a time you had a positive impact on a patient, population, or community in your role as a pharmacist.
Right now, I’m building a field medical science liaison team to educate health care professionals and the community. We are hoping to educate about vaccines in general and the safe and effective use of our COVID-19 vaccine product.