From Brain to Pharma: My Journey into the World of Pharmacometrics

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Kiranmayi Vedantham is a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Department and the Biomedical Sciences PhD program at UConn Health.

This article is part of the 2023 International Student Perspectives Collection.

As a neuroscience enthusiast, I have always been captivated by the complexities of the brain, delving into the intricacies of electrophysiology and crafting mathematical tools to better understand neurological phenomena. My journey had a natural affinity for studying large datasets and drawing meaningful insights from these data. This knack for math and a fascination with biology eventually steered me towards pursuing a PhD in neuroscience. But little did I know that my journey as a PhD student would lead me to the intriguing world of Pharmacometrics. My summer at Novartis was a delightful blend of mathematical modeling, data analysis, and newfound passions.

My journey into the world of pharmacometrics wasn’t just a happy accident but a deliberate step in my quest for translational research. While I have always cherished the academic world of neuroscience and the thrill of electrophysiology, I had an itch for something more – the opportunity to see my work make a tangible impact in the pharmaceutical field.

But how could I demonstrate the relevance of my academic knowledge and laboratory skills to the skill set required by the pharmaceutical industry? The answer lay in multiple interviews, several cups of coffee, and countless revisions of my resume. I cast a wide net, applying for internships in clinical pharmacology, pharmacometrics, biostatistics, and more. LinkedIn helped me reach out to multiple recruiters and industry experts who offered to refer me for interviews. Each interview provided a valuable lesson, helping me refine my pitch and tailor my qualifications to the specific roles. After a series of interviews, it was a moment of serendipity when I found my fit in pharmacometrics at Novartis.

Pharmacometrics, in simple terms, is the science of using mathematical models to understand how drugs work in the human body. It’s like creating a road map for drug development. By analyzing data and building models, pharmacometrics scans can predict a drug’s behavior, helping pharmaceutical companies make informed decisions. One of the key areas where pharmacometrics shines is in clinical trials. These trials are essential in bringing new drugs to the market, ensuring their safety and effectiveness. Pharmacometrics models help efficiently design these trials, determine the right drug dosage, and predict potential side effects. In short, pharmacometrics saves time, resources, and ultimately lives.

During my internship, I found myself in the heart of an intriguing project- developing the library of pharmacometrics (or PK/PD) models for nlmixr2, an upcoming statistical R package that promises to revolutionize the field. These models were like a puzzle, helping us decipher how drugs interacted with the unique physiology of each disease. It was a rewarding experience to see science come to life in the form of tailored treatments for individuals battling these conditions.

Another highlight of my experience was being part of specialized educational sessions tailored for us, the interns. As someone new to the industry, these sessions were incredibly enlightening and provided me with valuable insights.

In conclusion, my internship at Novartis was a valuable experience that introduced me to the significance of pharmacometrics in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a field that bridges the gap between math and medicine, contributing to safer and more effective drug development. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and the support I received, and I look forward to exploring this exciting field in my future endeavors.

Kiranmayi Vedantham is a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Department and the Biomedical Sciences Program at UConn Health, where she studies sleep circuitry. Her research aims at addressing the mechanisms by which BK ion channels regulate neuronal excitability and thereby establish BK as a novel drug target to treat sleep related disorders.

Published by Britt Knight PhD, Director

I received my PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Connecticut. My doctoral research focused on basic mechanisms in peripheral inflammatory pain biology. After, I completed about two years of postdoctoral research understanding how biomaterials can be used to deliver analgesics for treating musculoskeletal pain I transitioned to the Program Coordinator position for the United States Association for the Study of Pain (USASP). I am also the regional Director of CT Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

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