There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a fellowship, but most importantly, candidates should consider company and functional/therapeutic areas. Previously, we have extensively covered many of our functional areas on the blog. So this week, we invited one of our First Years to discuss therapeutic areas.
Medical Affairs is one of our most popular functional areas, and our largest fellowship company, Sanofi Genzyme, offers a number of medical affairs programs in various therapeutic areas including multiple sclerosis (MS), immunology, and oncology. Vannary Chhay (Medical Affairs, Sanofi Genzyme) discusses why she wanted to work within the MS therapeutic area at Sanofi Genzyme and how her program is tailored to fit her professional goals.
For those interested in biopharmaceutical fellowships, narrowing down which fellowships to apply to can be very cumbersome. Not only have fellowships expanded to include various functional areas offered in a range of therapeutic areas, but the companies at which these fellowships are affiliated with all have their own “culture” and “fit”. My name is Vannary Chhay and I am the Global Medical Affairs / Scientific Communications: Multiple Sclerosis first-year fellow at Sanofi Genzyme.
The MS Sci Comm fellowship at Sanofi Genzyme was one of my top choices because of Sanofi Genzyme’s collaborative culture, their continued dedication to multiple sclerosis, and because of its flexible fellowship structure.
There are many articles about the fellowship selection process written by other fellows in this blog, including an article explaining the role of Scientific Communications. In this post, I will highlight the reasons as to why I chose a fellowship with Sanofi Genzyme within Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Sanofi Genzyme’s commitment to patients is deeply rooted in their initiatives and growth as a rare diseases company, now offering products in various specialty diseases, including multiple sclerosis. After meeting with many of the fellows and managers during my interview process, it was clear to me that Sanofi Genzyme offers an environment that encourages communication and collaboration while having a strong focus on patient care.
Another unique aspect of the Sanofi Genzyme fellowship program is the number of fellows that we have. There are currently 32 positions within our company, which affords any new fellow a large network. The comradery between fellows at Sanofi Genzyme was unique to me when researching fellowships and I am very grateful to have a “second family” in our fellowship group. Despite our large numbers, each fellow within the program is a valued member of the team. Fellows at Sanofi Genzyme are recognized by senior leadership and are given many opportunities to lead projects (thanks to all of the previous fellows who have paved way for us). Senior leadership regularly recognizes our fellows and gives us many opportunities to lead projects
Like many other pharmacy students, I had very little knowledge of multiple sclerosis coming out of pharmacy school. In my pharmacy school’s curriculum, we were exposed to MS in one therapeutics lecture. This lecture resonated with me because the coordinator of this topic brought in one of his MS patients and I saw what type of struggles he faced in his life. MS can be a very disabling disease and despite many products being on the market, there is still a great need for further research and medications targeted at the more progressive forms of MS. As an MS fellow, I am able to immerse myself in the patho-physiology and treatment of this disease.
The MS Sci Comm fellowship is very flexible in terms of rotations. As a new fellow, I will rotate through Publications, Medical Communications, and Training before the end of my fellowship and have the chance to rotate outside of Sci Comm in other functional areas. One of the aspects that I really enjoy about the structure of our program is that there is no set time for each rotation and I am able to meet with my preceptor frequently to gauge the appropriateness of my projects and my interests as well. There are opportunities to mold which rotations I want outside of these Sci Comm rotations and everyone on the team is always receptive to these opportunities for the fellows. Some example rotations include Medical Science Liaison, US Medical Director, Commercial, Competitive Intelligence, and Patient Advocacy.
During my time here, I have rotated through Publications and am currently working in Medical Communications. In Publications, I was able to review abstracts, posters, and presentations submitted to global conferences. One of these conferences was ECTRIMS 2018 in Berlin, Germany where I helped our team coordinate and participate in meetings with key opinion leaders (KOLs) to discuss future publications and new data. I have also worked on other side projects with the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) team and the US Medical Affairs team to plan advisory boards and create medical materials.
In May, I will be starting my MSL rotation where I will first go through MSL certification and eventually participate in field rides to visit KOLs. Afterwards, I will have an opportunity to rotate through the US Medical Affairs: Medical Director Team. My other rotations have yet to be determined, but I am looking forward to working cross-functionally with other MS colleagues.
There are many unique aspects to every fellowship and I encourage potential applicants to find their fit in a role that excites and inspires them.
Vannary Chhay, PharmD, is a Global Medical Affairs/Scientific Communications Post-Doctoral Fellow with MCPHS University and Sanofi Genzyme
For more information on the Global Medical Affairs/Sci Comm: MS fellowship, check out this interview.