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PY2s Jeff Pike, left, and Ben Penley

When Jeff Pike explains why he chose pharmacy school, he points to the two sides of pharmacy he finds most engaging.

First, there’s the science. Pike is fascinated by the high level of science pharmacy demands — particularly the elegance with which drugs target certain receptors in the body.

Then, there’s the communication skills Pharm.D. students must learn to use. A successful pharmacist must be able to convey advanced medical information to doctors on the one hand, and simplify the information for patients on the other.

“There’s this combination of scientific expertise, coupled with really high level of communication,” said Pike. “And you have to really master both of those areas to be a strong Pharm.D.”

Pike, a second-year Pharm.D. student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has looked into various career paths in the health sciences. He said he’s most interested in a career in pharmaceutical industry — but he had trouble finding resources to learn about the field.

Ben Penley, a fellow PY2, felt the same way. “If there is one place that I felt like could have used some more background or information, it was in industry,” Penley said. “So Jeff and I thought that was something we could provide, to give people a glimpse into what industry looks like for students.”

Penley and Pike set out to create a new publication that could serve as a resource for students considering careers in industry. The result is Millennial Pharma Leader, a website dedicated to providing stories, insights and guidance for early-career pharma industry professionals.

Millennial Pharma Leader features articles and blog posts written by pharmacy students and early-career professionals, ranging from advice on landing internships and fellowships to commentary on current events in pharmacy.

Pike said the site has about a dozen authors around the country. He and Penley publish content on the page on a weekly basis. This content includes the MPL Podcast, a monthly interview series with early-career professionals. It’s produced by the Pharmacy Podcast Network and sponsored by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs, and available on Apple Podcasts and on the website.

Pike, the president of Millennial Pharma Leader, is in charge of the publication’s direction and strategic partnerships. Penley serves as editor-in-chief, drawing on his background as former editor-in-chief of the research magazine Carolina Scientific from his days as a UNC-Chapel Hill undergrad.

Feedback so far has been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Pike. “Hopefully these stories, interviews and topic discussions will be informative and help paint a better picture of the opportunities for ambitious new professionals in the drug development sector.”

It’s also an opportunity for the site’s authors to demonstrate that they can be thought leaders on scientific issues in the industry, Penley said — using both their science knowledge and crucial communications skills.

“The authors really benefit from engaging with and thinking deeply about the topics they write about,” said Penley.

Pike hopes the site can keep growing. He believes Millennial Pharma Leader can provide a resource for a wide range of students to share professional experiences and insights.

“We’re painting a picture of what each of these roles actually looks like, and helping students figure out for themselves how their strengths would align with these roles,” Pike said. “I think that unique perspective has really connected with the students and early-career professionals that have been involved.”


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