Alumni Connections and Previous Practicums
This page lists many of the alumni from the Pharmaceuticals Program and their practicum scopes of work. Click on their names and you will be linked to their LinkedIn profiles to learn what they are up to now! This is a great resource for finding out what Pharm-related practicums have been done in the past, and what the job market is for students in this program post graduation.
Our Alumni (Alphabetically):
Practicum: Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board Project Research Assistant
The CBCHB runs 5 hospitals, 24 integrated health centers, 50 primary health centers and a pharmaceutical plant. The CBCHB strives to provide quality healthcare services for its patients. By having a performance measurement tool, administration can see which areas are working well, where there are bottlenecks, and alter practices to improve healthcare delivery. The focus of the project was quality improvement via creating a performance measurement tool. This occurred over a two month period in country with continued work over the following six months. The team analyzed clinical and cross-cutting hospital domains of which I focused on pharmacy and supply chain. Understanding these hospital service practices in a low resource setting allows the team to create a targeted instrument to measure and analyze performance.
For this project I spent time doing observation, process mapping with a counterpart and creating PowerPoint presentations from those maps, and focus group discussions. We worked with four hospitals, spending a week at each location. I helped create eight process maps, participated in four focus group discussions, and completed over sixty hours of observation. By using process maps and understanding patient flow I was able to work on the beginning stages of instrument development.
Results/Outcomes: The project outcomes include a measurement tool and manual for using the tool describing the process of performance measurement. It will be used to improve the quality of services at CBCHB hospitals. The process mapping, observation, and discussions that shaped the tool will drive the quality improvement goals of CBCHB administration.
Practicum: Boston Medical Center-Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Project, HPV Vaccine Study Intern
Research shows that about half of girls who start the three shot Human Papillomavirus vaccination do not complete the series, while others fail to initiate. Only 35% of girls have actually completed the series. This research study is being conducted to understand parent’s views on the vaccine to help increase initiation and completion rates. Parents were approached in waiting rooms to assess eligibility for participation and to sign the consent form. 20 minute interviews were then administered to parents of girls aged 11-18 at both public and private sites. Questionnaires were tailored to daughter’s completion status as the following: uninitiated, incomplete, complete, and unsure. Three race categories including white, black, and Hispanic were recruited from in order to get a broad range of cultural, religious, economic issues that could encourage or inhibit vaccination against this sexually transmitted disease. The research team met weekly in order to collaborate on qualitative research analysis techniques including coding and thematic analysis.
At this point in the study recruitment is still occurring at all three sites. The knowledge gained thus far will be helpful in reaching target vaccination rates by addressing perceived barriers and educating doctors on how to better communicate and educate parents and daughters on the importance of completing the series.
Practicum: Veterans’ Affairs Boston Health Care System Project Title: Health
System Administrative Intern
Hospitals, including those in the VHA Boston Healthcare System, have been struggling in the past few years with increasing number of backordered medications. In addition to the obvious negative effects backorders have on patient care, they also create logistical communication difficulties. Previously, backorders were ineffectively and sporadically dealt with, resulting in poor communication between purchasers, pharmacists, and physicians. The goal of the project was to create a systematic notification system that allows communication of backorders in an efficient manner to eliminate wasted time and effort.
Methods: Through interviewing different parties I determined that using the VA’s EMR during the ordering of prescriptions was the best method. This was selected because it would act as a reminder at the time of ordering and because of the extreme difficulty of reaching physicians be other forms of electronic communication. I then charted a chain of events that reports the information from the purchasing agents to the clinical coordinator of the pharmacy to the chiefs of the medical services and finally to the physicians. The clinical coordinator now manages an excel sheet that is accessible via the desktop of every computer in the Boston healthcare system giving information on the backordered medication and more importantly the available alternatives to the backordered medication.
Projected Outcomes: Physicians will less likely prescribe backordered medications but instead refer to the desktop excel sheet to choose an alternative medication. This will allow the physician to make this clinical decision when still with the patient.
Practicum: Intern with the World Health Organization-Department of Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policies
Developing countries face the greatest problems in both accessing and properly utilizing essential medicines. A challenge to achieving these goals in resource-poor settings is a limited knowledge base on what works to improve the selection and use of essential medicines including ensuring affordable prices, increasing sustainable financing, and strengthening reliable supply systems that are relevant to these settings. I was asked to develop a bibliometric study of existing publications on access to medicines in developing countries. The objectives were to search the existing evidence base on access to medicines issues in developing countries and to assess the nature of topics studied, areas where gaps of information exist and the general trends in production of research in this area.
Methods: (1) develop a bibliometric search strategy (2) undertake an analysis of results of the bibliometric search (3) produce a preliminary report suitable for submission as part of a grant proposal for the Access to Medicines Research Network.
Results/Projected Results: As anticipated, few developing country corresponding authors were identified. Based on this bibliometric review the dearth of articles written by developing country authors is a challenge if researchers in developing countries are to contribute to ensure universal access to essential medicines and their proper usage. I prepared the report successfully for the grant submission. I am currently producing a report for the WHO Research Series as well as writing a paper for submission to a journal.
Practicum: Research Intern with Boston Medical Center – Neurology
Neurocritical care is a relatively new subspecialty which aims at improving the care of patients with life-threatening neurologic illnesses. Traditionally, critically ill neurologic patients are admitted to general or surgical ICUs, where they are cared for by medical or surgical intensivists without specialized training in neurology. The neurocritical model allows for a defragmentation of the care of critically ill neurologic patients, by replacing the medical intensivist with a neurointensivist; a clinician cross trained in neurology and critical care. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of a neurocritical care service on the effectiveness and efficiency of care provided to patents with ICH at Boston Medical Center.
Methods: This study uses a retrospective data review for cohort comparisons. Two cohorts will be compared of patients with ICH admitted through the emergency department to an ICU at BMC. The “before” cohort with consist of patients admitted before the first neurointensivist at BMC. The “after” cohort will consist of patients admitted when ICUs were co-managed by neurointensivists. I worked to 1. Establish both cohorts by identifying cases using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria and extracting information from electronic medical charts and 2. Create an excel spreadsheet in order to organize data and to aid in analysis of the data.
Results/Outcomes: Effectiveness outcomes to be compared between the cohorts along with data to compare the frequency of common, preventable ICU complications in ICH patients admitted to a BMC ICU before and after the start of the neurocritical care service.
Practicum: Management Sciences for Health Project Title: Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems: Supply Chain Management and Pharmacovigilance
CPM works to improve health worldwide through enhancing access to, and improving the use of, essential medicines and other healthcare products. The Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) program within CPM receives funding from the USAID to work with countries in order to strengthen their existing pharmaceutical systems. I worked with the SPS Ukraine program to address pharmaceutical management issues regarding the management of antituberculosis and antiretroviral therapy-related medicines and commodities; specifically issues regarding supply chain management. I also worked on an assessment of pharmacovigilance practices in Asia.
Methods: I worked with the Ukraine Monitoring and Evaluation Team in Washington, DC to research and identify key relevant supply chain management indicators for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS medicines. I identified supply chain indicators through a literature review, tracked them using an excel spreadsheet, and then mapped the indicators to a survey of pharmaceutical management practices at tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS facilities in Ukraine. The pharmacovigilance assessment was conducted though a desktop review of 175 documents. This review focused on 14 topics and six countries.
Results/Outcomes: The State Service in Ukraine will send the questionnaire to regional-level TB and HIV/AIDS facilities. The data collected from these surveys will then be analyzed using the indicator analysis plan; the indicators are based on my research. This analysis will provide baseline data of pharmaceutical management practices at regional-level facilities and identify gaps in the system. The pharmacovigilance assessment will be used to identify gaps in the body of knowledge on current status of pharmacovigilance in Asia.
Practicum: Analytics with Clinical Development with Vertex Pharmaceuticals-Pharmacovigilance Department Project
Within the pharmaceutical industry, Clinical Trials involve extensive budgets, thorough study design, and complicated timelines. To make sure that the Clinical group is within time/money/design constraints, operations management tools are used to identify process inefficiencies as well as aid in clinical planning.
Methods: Compiled a budget tracker using 4 milestones from our clinical timelines, analyzing variances in budgets by phase and compound. I used Ms Project to gather information on clinical timelines: cycle-times, process discrepancies, inefficiencies, and conduct post-mortem analyses of trials. I applied operations metrics to budget tracking and clinical process to start identifying key performance indicators. I also used websites like TrialTrove and BioPharm Clinical to do market feasibility, assessing the competitive landscape for secondary indications and future programs.
Results/Outcomes: The budget tracker was used as a platform to incorporate better forecasting tools, as well as reason to further evaluate the assumptions used in creating a budget. The analysis of the clinical timelines and associated business practices has launched an IT driven data warehouse project. Inefficiencies mainly occur between hand-offs within the trial. For example, when/how Medical Writing communicates to Biostatistics and the rest of the Study Execution Team that the study protocol is complete and approved. This project is ongoing since operations management is a relatively new concept for Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Practicum: Pharmacovigilance Intern with Millennium Pharmaceuticals, the Takeda Oncology Company-Summer Internship
Millennium is a Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company that specializes in the development of chemotherapeutic agents for use in a wide array of malignancies. As an intern within the Pharmacovigilance and Risk Management department I was involved in several projects which can ultimately be categorized by two distinct themes: one, to ensure the safety of clinical trial participants via ad-hoc analyses of safety signals, and two, to further amplify a nascent inter-company initiative to begin conducting normal healthy volunteer studies (NHV) with chemotherapeutic agents in-development.
Methods: Safety signals are unexpected – or expected – adverse events that occur during the course of a clinical trial. Their frequency, intensity and detrimental effects are deterministic of whether a compound can be used as an oncologic in humans. I was responsible for providing background incidence and prevalence rates of the signals in populations similar to the ones being studied in the trial. Facilitation of the push to begin conducting NHVs was achieved through the creation of various documents regarding the methods and regulations taken into consideration when conducting an NHV with a cytotoxic agent.
Results/Outcomes: The prevalence and incidence rates I obtained were used in a number of analyses that initially indicate that the adverse events in question were unrelated to the compound being used. The guidance, slides and documents I created for the NHV initiative will be used to create a white paper and decision tree/algorithm to determine if a compound is a good candidate for an NHV.
Practicum: Stackpole & Associates – Market Research Intern
Due to the significant increases in telemedicine, the expansion of US hospitals, and the high costs associated with healthcare, many countries and their hospitals seek to increase their opportunities by offering high quality healthcare at competitive costs. This growth of medical tourism is especially advantageous to developing health markets when educational standards are high and labor costs are low. Currently, medical tourism is a niche market. To promote the development and use of medical tourism, marketing may be an effective method to increase awareness for select populations. The purpose of this proprietary market research is to identify excess capacity and other opportunities for public and private health care providers and pharmaceuticals to maximize health services delivered to regional and international patients and customers seeking those services.
Methods: This market research utilized macro and micro health indicators as well as an inventory of health care services as the preliminary phase in constructing the foundation for potential marketing strategies. These variables were plotted with ArcGIS mapping software which were utilized to generate maps depicting relevant information.
Results could not be disclosed.
Practicum: The Impact of Drug Registration and Regulation on the Prevalence of Counterfeit and Substandard Drugs in 12 Countries with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research -Health Policy Studies (Pharmaceuticals)
AEI is a private, non-partisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, & social welfare. I interned for Dr. Roger Bate in the Health Policy Studies division, where I focused on the global health issue of counterfeit and substandard drugs.
Methods: This practicum involved comprehensive research on drug regulation and registration in 12 countries that have a known issue with counterfeit and substandard drugs – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, & Vietnam. Fellow BUSPH student Sarah Naoshy and I collaborated to complete the following projects while at AEI: 1) Research reports & summary analyses on 12 countries, 2) Comparison charts, 3) The discussion section of a paper entitled, “Variability of product consistency in developing and mid-income countries: an assessment of raman spectra,” and 4) A working paper entitled, “Drug registration – a necessary, but not sufficient condition for good quality drugs – a preliminary analysis of 12 countries.”
Results/Outcomes: This research has been and will continue to be used as a reference in composing a series of working papers and journal articles. We plan to remain in communication with Dr. Bate and contribute to the next two working papers in the series, including one on regulatory successes and failures, and another on pharmacovigilance. Ideally, our research will be used from a policy perspective to locate the gaps in drug regulation and registration procedures which enable counterfeit and substandard drugs to thrive in both developed and developing countries.
Practicum: United for Health Abyssinia
United for Health Abyssinia (UHA) is a startup organization working to control and treat tuberculosis in Ethiopia. UHA has developed a three step strategic plan to achieve these goals. The plan includes the improvement of hospital infrastructure and capacity to manage tuberculosis, the training of community health workers to detect and help treat tuberculosis patients, and an awareness campaign to lower stigma around the community.
Methods: She worked primarily with one other intern, the Director of Programs and the Program Coordinator to accomplish our tasks. These included: (1) Developing a brand for UHA to strengthen the communication and image of the organization, (2) Conduct a literature review of current global tuberculosis strategies, (3) Create a monthly newsletter to regularly communicate with UHA network, (4) Develop a fundraising plan to support program and development activities, (5) Plan and host a fundraiser event at the end of the summer, (6) Edit and improve the current UHA website to make it more user friendly and inviting, (7) Create and manage online presence through social media networking sites, and (8) Begin to develop a database of potential donors and grant opportunities for future funding prospects.
Results: The communication materials, networking tools, and new technology put in place this summer will continue to be used by UHA to build their network within Boston, the US, and global communities. These resources will allow UHA to continue to focus the majority of their time on project goals and allow the administrative aspects of the organizations to grow simultaneously.
Practicum: Clinical Trials Study Management as the Sponsor at Shire Human Genetic Therapies (Shire HGT)
Lysosomal Storage Diseases (LSD) are rare inherited disorders that result from dysfunctional lysosomes and affect mostly children. Populations with LSD often lack particular enzymes that are normally responsible for breaking down sugars, lipids, or proteins. This malfunction leads to abnormal accumulation of products within various cells, which translates into developmental/cognitive/movement related difficulties and early death for populations with LSD. Shire HGT focuses a branch of its R&D efforts on developing treatments for diseases in the LSD class, which are Enzyme Replacement Therapies (ERT) for conditions such as Hunter Syndrome, Sanfilippo A/B, and Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD). My purpose in this practicum was to assist Shire HGT’s Clinical Operations department in coordination of six different LSD-related clinical trial studies. Successful management of these studies could lead to FDA approval of Shire’s treatments and ultimately put new drugs on the market.
Methods: My study start-up activities included making IRB submissions and collecting site regulatory documents. To support the progression of studies, I created trackers for drug shipments and vendor invoices. I also made a slide deck summarizing neurodevelopmental assessments and reviewed site Informed Consent Forms. Lastly, I reviewed and restructured the Trial Master File of a completed study.
Results/Projected Outcomes: All study management activities, no matter how seemingly menial, progress the clinical trial. If Shire’s ERTs are proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials, children with life-altering conditions such as Hunter Syndrome or Sanfilippo could live longer, more normal lives with the approved treatment.
Practicum: Pathways to Wellness – Integrative Healthcare Practicum
Pathways to Wellness, a nonprofit organization specializing in complementary alternative therapy, conducted a 3-year study funded by a large managed care organization to assess clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness of using acupuncture. Over 400 members of the MCO have been referred to ongoing acupuncture treatment for the following conditions: pain, headache or migraine, menstrual or menopausal symptoms, carpal tunnel syndrome, and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Preliminary evaluations of clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction have already been conducted for Year 1 and Year 2 of the study, and a comprehensive analysis of the entire project is now underway.
Methods: Kelly’s practicum focused on data collection and an integrated assessment of variables from Year 3 with Years 1 and 2. Beginning with the development of a comprehensive database, she utilized medical records and patient surveys to collect pertinent data from all 3 years of the study. With the assistance of clinical staff, she abstracted treatment information in order to evaluate both clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Results/Outcomes: With data collection almost complete, the next step in the project will be overall interpretation, with planned analyses on clinical outcomes, questionnaire validity, cost-effectiveness, quality of life, and patient satisfaction to be performed. Preliminary results show that acupuncture is an efficacious, low cost intervention for these chronic clinical conditions, and hopefully one day soon, the health care community will view this therapy as a valuable non-pharmacological complement to the usual standard of care for these patients.
Practicum: Management Sciences for Health Project Intern in Washington, D.C.
MSH/CPM is developing practical guidance on managing medicines benefits by providing lessons from successful and unsuccessful country experiences. I worked to help develop a case study of pharmaceutical management in Costa Rica to inform improved policies and management in Universal Health Coverage schemes.
Methods: I worked directly with David Lee at MSH and Dr. Albin Chaves Matamorros of the Costa Rican Social Security office to compile and research indicators and data relevant to this case study. I began with a review of current literature on the subject of pharmaceutical management in Costa Rica under their universal coverage scheme. The search was to rule out duplicated work and ensure that a similar case study had not already been published. After ruling this out, I began a review of Dr. Chaves’ publications and PowerPoint presentations to compile a master spreadsheet of data and indicators, laid out chronologically. I identified gaps in the data and addressed discrepancies in units and conflicting data. Results/Projected
Outcomes: Costa Rica is the first country to offer comprehensive drug coverage through a universal coverage scheme successfully. They have a single payer system that streamlines and consolidates the process, and have achieved coverage of greater than 95% of the population while containing pharmaceutical costs. A case study that examines the mechanisms that have allowed them to do this successfully will be invaluable to health systems and other countries and international agencies such as the WHO as well.
Practicum: Using Service Delivery Point Logistics Data to Ensure Commodity Security and Avert Stock-Outs with the Public Health Institute-Global Health Fellows Program – II | USAID Intern
USAID’s Commodity Security and Logistics supports the USAID | DELIVER Project, which works to strengthen national and international supply chains and increase coordination, commitment and collaboration for commodity financing, procurement and delivery. During three months in DC and two months remotely, she worked on projects including: recommending areas for improved performance indicators; drafting technical briefs on current USAID supply chain activities; and conducting an assessment of countries’ collection of logistics data from service delivery points.
In order to assess current data collection efforts from service delivery points supported by USAID, Amy performed an initial literature review, drafted an interview guide, and conducted interviews and document reviews with USAID staff and field staff from USAID supported projects. Topics covered in the interviews included: types, methods and frequency of data collection; how data is used at the local and central levels; key challenges; quality and accuracy of data; and
feasible options for improving data collection efforts in the future. Amy collected data and information from 15 countries and consolidated her findings into a summary report highlighting current data visibility, key challenges, and recommendations on where USAID should focus its efforts in this area in the future.
Practicum: Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development Project Title: Collaborations of AMC Medical Schools and Pharmaceutical/ Biotech Companies/ Research Assistant
Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD) was asked by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to examine the current and expected socioeconomic and scientific impacts of American accredited medical colleges (AMCs) collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Past analysis reveals that when such collaborations occur, the industrial companies can save costs during the drug discovery stages of Research and Development. Industry can also rely on the academic partners to contribute their expertise in a particular clinical area. In return, the academic partner benefits from grant money from industry, and could potentially add more jobs to the respective department in which the collaboration is taking place.
Methods: The technology transfer websites of 150 AMCs were accessed to find technology transfer contract reports. Ideal reports listed the pharmaceutical/biotechnology company, the money granted to the university, and the project assignment. Not every college made this information public, or kept a master report of this information, therefore press releases announcing collaborations were searched via Google News and the press release section of industry websites. A literature review was conducted to examine the socioeconomic and scientific benefits of such collaborations.
Results/Outcomes: Case examples from colleges that had comprehensive databases were selected which highlighted benefits to the college including job creation and increased financial strength to the surrounding community along with the discoveries that the industrial side was able to benefit from. A database was created for PhRMA to review to provide more focus for future projects.