Each year, we ask our fellows to organize and host one of our quarterly Conference Series. For today’s article, we are covering our last Conference Series for the 2017-2018 fellowship year that was hosted by our Biogen fellows!

In our last article, Takeda fellow, Kathleen Montgomery, reflected on the need to bridge the gap between clinical and industry pharmacists because of their common interest in improving patient well-being.

For this blog update, we thought it would be fitting to have two of our fellows, first-year Melissa Laracy and second-year Tina Chhabra, discuss the Conference Series they recently organized on patient engagement.

Throughout the course of the fellowship year, the fellows from across the nine companies gather for quarterly Professional Development Days and Conference Series. These events are intended to help us foster new skills, build relationships, and learn from one another.

The final Conference Series of the 2017-2018 fellowship year was hosted by the Biogen fellows. We planned a series of presentations and guest speakers centered around the theme of Patient Engagement, as a way to bring our pharmacy roots into focus. While we may not interact daily with patients, it’s important to recognize the patient is at the center of our work.

The first-year fellows prepared and delivered presentations on Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD), Advocacy and Access, and Transitioning from Volume-based Care to Value-based Care. Attendees learned about the FDA’s PFDD Initiative and how the United States regulatory landscape is shifting to highlight the patient perspective in all areas of drug development. They discussed the different barriers that patients face when trying to gain access to investigational drugs, and the role that Expanded Access Programs and Patient Advocacy Organizations can play in assisting patients. Finally, the fellows learned about three major models of value-based care, what it means to have a value-based care system, and what is needed to successfully implement these systems.

The conference also featured two guest speakers. Lauren Chiarello, Associate Director of US Multiple Sclerosis Patient Advocacy at Biogen, provided an insightful view into what a Patient Advocacy department looks like in the pharmaceutical industry. She explained the role her department can have in industry and how they can work with other departments across the company to put patients first. She encouraged the fellows to reach out to the Patient Advocacy departments in their respective companies to learn more or share ways in which Patient Advocacy can get involved in their departments.

The final guest speaker of the day was Greg O’Brien, author of On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s. Greg is a journalist by training, but he is also a patient with Alzheimer’s Disease and prostate cancer. He delivered a heartfelt, humorous, candid, and sincere speech with a powerful message that resonated with and impacted the entire audience. His presence humbly reminded us all of why we pursued pharmacy as a career and will motivate us to continue doing our very best every day.

Conference Series will continue in fall 2018 with the arrival of the 2018-2019 fellowship class. We can’t wait to see what new ideas our incoming fellows will bring!

First and Second Year Biogen Fellows posing together
Our Biogen fellows post-Conference Series!

Photo of Melissa Laracy

Melissa Laracy, PharmD, is a Global Medical Writing Post-Doctoral Fellow with MCPHS University and Biogen.


Photo of Tina ChhabraTina Chhabra, PharmD is a Safety & Benefit Risk Management Post-Doctoral Fellow with MCPHS University and Biogen.

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