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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / October 2019 / The Project Manager in Pharmaceutical Development: Jack of All Trades; Master of None

The Project Manager in Pharmaceutical Development: Jack of All Trades; Master of None

By James Clements, PhD, Director of Project Management at Athenex

Looking back on my graduate and postdoctoral training, and my current situation with Athenex, one would think I followed a relatively straight career path.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is fortuitous that I started my career in the field of T cell biology, and I now find myself heavily involved in the development of a cutting-edge T cell-based immunotherapy. But I have worn many different hats since completing my postdoctoral training – some of which fit better than others – and I am very grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I have been afforded in my career path to date.

Undergraduate immunology courses sowed the seeds of my interest in this field, and likely started me on my way to graduate school, where I studied T cell biology as part of my thesis project.  From there it was on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa, where I focused further on T cell development and activation.  Throughout my graduate education and post-doctoral training, I believed I was set on a path to establish my own independent lab in an academic environment, thinking at the time that this was what I wanted to do for an extended period of time – perhaps for my entire career.  What else could I possibly do?  And I did have an independent lab for a while.  Yet here I am now, in a publicly traded pharmaceutical company with the title “Director of Project Management”.  It is difficult to describe precisely what my job entails; yet I have held and continue to hold many different roles and responsibilities.  One thing is for sure: I have had exposure to almost all facets of drug development, which has served me well when trying to understand and integrate the needs of multiple groups and individuals.  In so doing, I have a much better understanding and appreciation of the entire process, from R&D to commercialization, and each step in between.  Because of this, I do consider myself to be a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None”, which serves me quite well in my current role with Athenex.        

I look forward to discussing the twists and turns along my career path with you, and to hopefully impart some useful advice as you begin yours. Join me Tuesday November 5 from 11am – noon in the Northeastern Conference Room 1-9525. I hear there will be pizza!

Tracey Baas | 10/30/2019

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