Two months ago, the Fellowship Program welcomed our new first year fellows to Boston and their companies. With summer wrapping up, we’ve asked a few of our fellows to reflect on their first few months with the fellowship. To kick off this series, this week first year Biogen fellow (and MCPHS University alum), Patsy Casalino, looks back on how his perspective has changed post-graduation.
If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve been in White Hall at MCPHS University at least 921 times. To give you some background, the historic George Robert White building, constructed in 1917, houses White Hall, a spacious multi-purpose room with an ornate ceiling, majestic fireplace, and plenty of other unique features. White Hall originally served as the library, but has been used for everything from classes to banquets in the time since. As for me, my name is Patsy Casalino and I graduated this past May with my PharmD degree from MCPHS University. During my time as a student, I was in White Hall for various classes, receptions, and events.
However, my approximately 921st time in White Hall was not as a student, but as a postdoctoral fellow. I am one of two fellows in the Regulatory Sciences/Safety and Benefit-Risk Management (SABR) fellowship at Biogen. Biogen is one of nine companies that affiliate with MCPHS University to co-sponsor over 35 PharmD Fellowship programs. Pharmacists from all over the country make up the core of the MCPHS Fellowship Network (MFN), and we were all in White Hall for our orientation. As I looked around at my new colleagues taking in the details of the room, I realized that this room must look very different for them than it did for me. Our perspective of White Hall was influenced by our experiences, and I’d say that’s a pretty good example of what the first few months of fellowship has been like.
Similar to having been in White Hall, I have previous regulatory experience with a small biotech company. Like my colleagues seeing White Hall for the first time, I’m seeing for the first time how drug safety fits into the bigger drug development and commercialization picture. The fellowship program I’m a part of offers a unique opportunity to gain experience in both functional areas while developing an understanding of how they complement each other. I’m fortunate enough to be starting with SABR, which allows me the chance to use my prior regulatory experience while learning drug safety. The functional groups are very different in their day-to-day roles, but the skill sets from each are transferrable to the other.
While SABR is new territory for me, being at Biogen is not—as a student, I completed a six-week rotation with the Clinical Drug Supply (CDS) team. My admiration for the company and the people who work here has not changed. Biogen prides itself on a diverse and inclusive company culture, and I’ve seen first-hand how beneficial an environment where employees are empowered to do their best work can be.
Being a part of one of the larger fellowship networks also has its benefits – my favorite being the chance to connect with fellows from the other affiliate companies. I’ve genuinely enjoyed getting to know my fellow fellows, whether we are networking at a professional event or running (walking) up the stairs at Harvard Stadium (for fun?). Despite attending MCPHS and living in Boston for the past few years, there is still so much of the Cambridge/Somerville area I’m seeing for the first time with my new colleagues.
I think being back at White Hall for orientation was a gentle reminder that whether it’s the first or the nine hundred twenty-first time seeing something, there’s always a chance to change your perspective.
Patsy Casalino, PharmD, is a Regulatory Sciences / Safety and Benefit Risk Management Post-Doctoral Fellow with MCPHS University and Biogen