PharmFest Alumni Panel Discusses Career Success in the Changing Pharma Industry

Despite exciting advances in drug treatments to fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and AIDS, the pharmaceutical industry faces both financial and technological challenges amid a dramatically changing health care landscape.

That was the message that several hundred industry leaders, scientists, academics, students, and alumni heard at PharmFest 2012, New Jersey’s leading industry and academic forum on emerging issues and trends in pharmaceutical life sciences held on April 3 at Montclair State University.

PharmFest 2012 was jointly sponsored by Montclair State University and the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey. The theme this year, “The Changing Landscape,” reflected how the pharmaceutical life sciences industry was evolving.

Commenting on how the industry’s relationship with academe is also evolving, Dean Robert Prezant of Montclair State’s College of Science and Mathematics said “As the industry is redefined, and as I have had confirmed at this conference, we are looking towards even closer relationships between pharmaceutical companies and academia, especially in terms of shared and mutually interesting research.”

Breakout sessions at the conference featured panels of industry executives and experts, and covered topics such as “Overcoming Today's Pharma Challenge: Building on Past Successes with a Focus on Science,” “People and Partnerships, New Trends in Pharmaceutical Sales and Market Research,” and “Small Molecule and Biologic Drug Discovery and Development.”

To conclude the day, four alumni lead a panel discussion entitled "Career Success in the Changing Pharma Industry". The panel was moderated by Carolyn D. Jones, Executive Director, Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education. Four alumni leaders in the pharmaceutical field spoke about how to achieve career success in the changing pharmaceutical industry. The alumni panelists included:

  • Terence Gunning '79, Chief Operating Officer, MedLabs Diagnostics
  • MaryLinda Schumann '78, '83 MA, Manager, Technical Support, Chemetall Oakite
  • Heidi Pfefferkorn '88, Director, Regulatory CMC Project Management, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
  • Dr. Maria Webb '77, Chief Science Officer, Benenum Biodesign

The panel discussion was followed by an alumni networking reception in the University Hall Conference Center where alumni interested in the field were invited to network with fellow graduates and industry professionals.