Hello, my name is Lisan. Biocareers has asked me to share my experiences and career path with you. My sincere hope is that you will find the lessons that I and others have learned to be helpful as you journey and make your own career decisions. Thank you Biocareers for this opportunity!
I will be sharing with you my journey into the non-profit research world. For my first blog entry, I’ll start out by telling you a little about what I have been doing since January 2010. In future blog entries, I will share more about my experiences that have set me on this course. If you have any questions or want to share any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
I obtained my PhD in Pharmacology in 2003, and after a postdoc in developmental neurobiology that lasted 1 month shy of 3 years, I went into industry for 2 ½ years (Merck Research Laboratories, Neuroscience Drug Discovery). My time in industry came to a conclusion (a choice by me and a leap of faith that I will share in detail in a future post), which then left me unemployed for about 8 months in 2009. During this time of unemployment, I explored scientific opportunities in the non-profit world and found my current position.
Currently, I serve as Scientific Liaison to the TB Alliance and World Health Organization’s Stop TB Partnership, Working Group on New TB Drugs (WGND), and as Secretariat to the WGND. The TB Alliance is a non-profit drug development company, also known as a product development partnership (PDP). The mission of the WGND and my role as secretariat is to enable and increase global collaboration and advocacy for the development of new TB drugs.
You may be asking yourself –“‘TB’ as in tuberculosis?” Yes. ‘TB’ stands for the tubercle bacilli that cause tuberculosis. “Isn’t TB obsolete, or only sporadic?” Actually, no. I didn’t really appreciate this either until I started to investigate scientific jobs in the non-profit field, particularly in global health.
“Don’t we have drugs for TB?” Yes, we do have drugs (antibiotics to be specific), but there haven’t been any new drugs for TB in over 40 years. And the drugs we currently have need to be taken in combination with one another daily for a period of 6-9 months, and that is if you have TB that is susceptible or sensitive to the drugs. Drug-resistant TB requires patients to take drug combinations daily for 18-24 months, and these ‘second-line’ drugs are more toxic. I haven’t even mentioned that TB is the leading cause of death of individuals who are HIV-infected, and that child-friendly formulations of current TB drugs do not exist.
My job as scientific liaison and secretariat of the WGND is more scientific administration than scientific management. I manage and oversee the global TB drug pipeline, membership and budget of the WGND, implementation of the initiatives outlined by the WGND core team which enable and support our mission, TB R&D blog, and reports to the Stop TB partnership about our activities.
This year, I was involved in the drafting of the new drugs sections for the updated Global Plan for TB to be released in October of this year. My job allows me to network with scientists, non-scientists, activists, and individuals from all around the world who are committed to controlling and eliminating TB.
In my next post, I will share more about the journey to my current position from graduate school (if you’re interested, of course) J