Innovative research lab launches alumni careers in the pharmaceutical industry

Professor Sachin Shah with PharmD students

Over the years, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy’s Innovative Clinical and Outcomes Research (iCOR) lab has successfully cultivated students and propelled them into rewarding careers in the pharmaceutical industry. Alumni have advanced into impactful positions at high-profile pharmaceutical companies, including AbbVie, Biogen, Genentech, Novartis and Pfizer.

What started as a passion project for one student has grown into a track for doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students looking for alternative careers in the industry field. Through iCOR, students have the opportunity to collaborate with Pacific faculty members and fellows, as well as industry scientists.

From the beginning, iCOR students prioritized innovation when designing studies by raising questions on new methodologies and technologies in health care. The results of completed research studies influence and inspire current projects. Whether investigating a new concept or digging into a previous one, the individuals within iCOR work together to continue to produce groundbreaking data and analysis in clinical research.

Early on, iCOR made its mark leading a randomized controlled trial that assessed the cardiovascular safety of the consumption of high‐volume multi-ingredient energy drinks compared to caffeine alone. iCOR teams have explored avocados and heart health. Students investigated a dietary supplement mix for treating hangover symptoms. They also delved into the medical devices sphere by designing a series of clinical trials testing the accuracy of the readings on continuous glucose monitors.

“iCOR gave me a glimpse of the life of a clinical scientist and helped me understand the role they play in drug development.”

Recently, iCOR completed a clinical trial which showed a statistically significant reduction in both “bad” cholesterol and body weight when volunteers ate meals from a plant-based meal kit compared to a non-plant-based meal kit. Currently iCOR is conducting research on enhanced external counterpulsation, a non-invasive Food and Drug Administration approved treatment to improve circulation. The researchers are studying multiple cardiovascular endpoints to better understand the scope of benefits patients might experience with this treatment.

Alumni take the valuable skills gained from hands-on clinical research into their careers.

“iCOR gave me a glimpse of the life of a clinical scientist and helped me understand the role they play in drug development,” said Sheel Patel ’19, PharmD, clinical research and drug development fellow at PPD, a global contract research organization. “My most memorable experience was when my team members and I were tasked to design and execute our own, and my first, clinical trial.”

Strong partnerships allow this unique program to continue its tradition of training highly motivated and hardworking students at Pacific, helping them achieve their goals as future leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. This year, Katherine Hsu ’21, Elizabeth Lindemann ’21, Anh Nguyen ’21, Simran Randhawa ’21, Brandon Tran ’21 and Brittany Tran ’21 accepted fellowships with Sanofi Genzyme, Regeneron, PPD, Pfizer, Genentech and Daiichi Sanky, respectively.

“This year is a significant milestone, 100 percent of our students in the industry track were offered a fellowship,” said Sachin A. Shah, PharmD, FACC, FAHA, professor of pharmacy practice, regional coordinator and director of pharmacy research and education at Travis Air Force Base. “It would not have been possible without the students’ hard work, the efforts of the iCOR faculty and the support we received from many Pacific leaders and iCOR alumni.”