February 17, 2021
In this alum spotlight, we chat with Kimberley Brown, Pharm.D. (Class of ’03), National Field Director for Janssen Infectious Diseases & Vaccines. In this role, she leads the development of medical strategy for field-based medical teams and oversees development for the broader organization.
Q: Please describe your novel practice setting. What makes your career path unique?
A: I have been in the pharmaceutical industry since 2007 and have been in various roles involving medical affairs and research and development.
I joined the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson in 2007 as a Medical Science Liaison from the Rainbow Center for Women, Children and Families in Jacksonville, Florida where I served as an HIV Clinical Specialist and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida School of Pharmacy.
Prior to my current role, I served as Scientific Director for Janssen Research and Development, leading two large Phase III trials and several Phase I studies. From 2015 through Jan 2018, I served as the U.S. Medical Director for the HIV franchise. Before that, I served as Associate Medical Director of U.S. Medical Affairs, Infectious Diseases, where I worked on both the HCV and HIV clinical teams, leading efforts on research trials, as well as product launch activities. I was also the company’s Pharmacovigilance Officer and served as Associate Director of Training with responsibilities for the Virology Medical Science Liaison team.
Q: What led you to this career path? What steps did you take?
A: I was the nerdy kid who wanted a microscope for Christmas. When I was 10, I remember Dr. David Ho was the Times Man of the Year for discovering AZT, and I was just fascinated by it. For me, studying HIV and hepatitis was the perfect combination of my interests in internal medicine and infectious disease.
From there, my infectious diseases clinical rotation at Moses Cone really set my infectious diseases career in motion – notably, my time at the HIV clinic. I saw that most people coming into the HIV clinic looked like me and were my age at the time. That formulated my ‘why.’ We were seeing huge health disparities, and lack of access to care. Since then, we’ve seen the HIV epidemic continue, but treatment has evolved. Back then, we were trying to keep people alive, now we’ve moved on to more novel therapies to manage this chronic disease.
Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?
A: Right now, during COVID-19, there’s a lot of focus on medical strategy and building teams. We’re in the process of hiring a new Medical Science Liaison vaccines team that will focus on providing medical information about our vaccines portfolio, driving innovation. Our community liaison team will educate and impact how we can connect to communities. I am spending a lot of time strategizing, collaborating and driving innovation.
Q: Describe the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your (novel) practice role?
A: Over my career, the most impactful thing was leading an HIV pregnancy study. It gave pregnant women an option to manage their HIV that has proven to be safe and effective (especially in patients with multi-class resistance. Further, these data showed no mother to child transmission which has impacted lives around the world.
My previous roles have been focused on data and research, however my current role has posed a new and interesting challenge – developing leaders that are subject matter experts and strategic.
Q: Describe the most challenging aspect of your role?
A: Part of the most challenging portion is balancing the needs of health care providers in the community with the business.
Q: How can someone learn more about this unique practice setting and the career opportunities it presents for pharmacists?
A: I would encourage those interested in a similar role to reach out to those in the pharmaceutical industry. Take advantage of any internships or experiential opportunities. Call us, network with us, shadow us.
Q: What advice would you give to a current student pharmacist who is interested in pursuing a similar type of practice role in the future?
A: Express your interest early and often. Take on projects that seem interesting as well as those that don’t. Each experience will allow you to build your skillset and your network.
Q: What general advice would you give to a high school or college student who is interested in pursuing a pharmacy career?
A: Make sure that you’re prepared by speaking with folks in the profession and have a true understanding of the various realms of pharmacy. Don’t underestimate your potential. And when faced with challenges or closed doors, keep top of mind ‘why not me?’ Continue moving one step forward at a time.
Q: Can you share a brief story about a time you had a positive impact on a patient, population, or community in your role as a pharmacist?
A:. Right now I’m building a field medical science liaisons team to educate health care professionals and the community. We are hoping to educate about vaccines in general, as well as the safe and effective use of our COVID-19 vaccine product.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: In my free time, I serve as Recording Secretary and Co-Chair of the Technology Committee for Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc. and as Vice President of Marketing for the Junior League of Philadelphia. I am also a board member of Vetri Community Partnership, The Brodsky Center Advisory Board (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), UNC Pharmacy Alumni Association, and UNC’s Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (ACRED).