Alma smiling at the camera. She has faded magenta-streaked hair and large tortoise-shell glasses.Senior Clinical Scientist, Merck

Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?

After undergrad I began working in clinical research at Boston Children's Hospital. In my role I enjoyed seeing patients and their caretakers, and saw the impact we make not only in providing new treatment options but also combating medical skepticism. I wanted to learn more about how trials were managed, so I moved on to Alliance Foundation Trials where I was on the project management team for an international breast cancer trial. At this level, I realized I wanted to work closely with medical directors on scientific planning and medical monitoring. I needed to further my scientific knowledge and business understanding of the biotech/pharma industry and came to Brandeis to gain those skills. Now I am a Senior Clinical Scientist at Merck working on cardiometabolic international trials. 

What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search?

I would suggest that students make it their goal to meet with career services by Thanksgiving break in order to work on your resume and general cover letter. These are the essential documents to have ready. Once you know what positions you are applying for, it is easy to make simple tweaks to appeal to the job/internship listing. 

What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?

I knew before I started my masters that I loved my industry and generally what role I wanted to move into within it (clinical scientist). I knew I needed to be well-acquainted with lab skills from the bench to understand discovery, with medicinal chemistry to understand delivery, efficacy, and metabolism, and with regulatory and business fundamentals to understand how we operationalize trials. In my position, I am able to use these skills to plan for study milestones and regulatory submissions, monitor key endpoints to ensure patient safety, and propose solutions to problems that arise. 

Is there anything you wish you had done differently as a graduate student that may have made the transition to your career easier?

I would have to say that I was really proud of how my transition worked out. I think the only thing I would do differently is being mindful of the overall anxiety of the process, and taking more time to myself.