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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / September 2020 / "Brett Mulvey’s Roadmap to a Career in Medical Affairs: How to Break Away from Academia’s Publish or

"Brett Mulvey’s Roadmap to a Career in Medical Affairs: How to Break Away from Academia’s Publish or Perish Environment with Networking and Communication"

By Matthew Ingalls, PhD Candidate in Genetics, Development, and Stem Cells

My dreams became set on becoming an academic in part because that was what I was led to believe would be the most fulfilling career path in science, but also because the only other option fell into a gray box called, “industry.” After six years of observing my peers, mentors, and surrounding faculty constantly struggle to secure funding, that academic pipedream has begun to produce a more nightmarish tone. I still love science, I can’t imagine my life without it, but I’ve come to realize that what I most enjoy about science cannot flourish in academia, at least not with the current “publish or perish” environment.

Approximately a year ago I had the opportunity to present some recently published work to a mixed audience in a head and neck cancer survivor support group based in Denver, Colorado. This opportunity forced me to bring together communication skills that I had never used. Quickly switching between scientific language to discuss the intricacies of how I performed my experiments and more easily accessible terms felt natural. I loved serving as a mediator between patients, MDs, and basic scientists. You could say I felt at home.

That experience led me to discover the field of medical affairs, and ultimately to Brett Mulvey, a medical science liaison at Novocure with expertise in everything from epigenetics, oncology, and developmental neuroscience to science communication. Similar to me, Brett started out in basic research. In graduate school he studied the role of long-noncoding RNAs in Drosophila sex determination. Desiring to expand the clinical impact of his work, upon completion of his PhD at Florida State University College of Medicine, Brett pursued postdoctoral research focused on epigenetic regulation of neural development at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. It was there, during a career showcase, much like the URBEST Career Stories, that Brett discovered the field of medical affairs and formed his first meaningful network connection in the field. Through this contact, he was advised to gain clinical experience by pursuing a shadowing program that offered the opportunity to interact with patients, observe procedures, and perform clinical analysis. With a little help from connecting with a recruiter and a little bit of serendipity from networking, Brett was able to successfully break into the field of medical affairs.

In a graduate school or traditional post-doctoral environment, we are constantly immersed in academia and there is little to no talk of or encouragement to pursue industry. It becomes a gray box of the unknown, and the unknown becomes inferior in our minds. When I met with Brett a little over a week ago to procure information for this blog post, he frequently emphasized that learning about the medical affairs field broke down a barrier between academia and industry. The field is made up of many broad positions that cover various facets of basic, clinical, and pharmacological science. In general, the role of a medical science liaison can be boiled down to making and maintaining connections to mediate the flow of information about a drug or treatment between industry, academic collaborators, and medical prescribers. In Brett’s words, “you really just get to nerd out and have fun talking about science every day.”

So, if you’re interested in learning about medical affairs, or even how a simple first network connection can take the pressure to publish or perish off the shoulders of a dedicated aspiring academic, Brett’s career story is for you.

***Disclaimer, Brett Mulvey is not presenting on behalf of Novocure.***

Eric Vaughn | 9/15/2020

Event Details:

myHub Sponsored Event: URBEST Career Story: Brett Mulvey, Ph.D.; Medical Science Liaison with Novocure (URBEST Retreat Event)

Thursday, September 17 | 11:00 am-12:00 pm | Zoom Event: Click here to register for this event  and to receive the Zoom Link

Brett Mulvey, Ph.D. will share his academic and career journey from graduate student to his current position as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) with Novocure. In addition, he will highlight the importance of networking and how important this is to the job exploration and search process. Register for this virtual career story on Zoom at this link. Need accommodations for any CPD or GEPA event?  Contact at least three business days prior to the event.

Katherine Bognanno | 9/15/2020

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