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Heading Overseas to Develop Drugs to Prevent and Cure Malaria

By Lauren Whetzel-Siburkis

CAROLYN SELENSKIWhen USciences alumna CAROLYN SELENSKI PhC’00, PhD, stumbled across a headline on GlaxoSmithKline's website titled, "The Diseases of the Developing World Need You," the opportunity immediately sparked her interest. Soon after, she accepted an 18-month secondment position within this philanthropic unit and moved to Madrid.

Dr. Selenski had worked as a principal scientist in chemical biology at GlaxoSmithKline in North Carolina for more than three years before accepting her current role with the company’s overseas location as an investigator focusing on lead optimization efforts and validating the first target for malaria.

"Over the past year, my main focus has been working to find drugs that could prevent and cure malaria," said Dr. Selenski. "This charitable unit of the company concentrates mainly on researching and developing drugs that could prevent and cure malaria and tuberculosis, along with some other neglected tropical diseases."

Working in Madrid has provided her with a unique skill set to bring back to the U.S. because she has gained firsthand involvement in the latestage drug discovery process. While in the U.S., Dr. Selenski was primarily responsible for developing technology for the pharmaceutical industry in early-stage drug development, rather than the actual drugs.

quote"During my time here, I've learned that I enjoy working closer to the drug and patient in the drug discovery process where deadlines are critical," said Dr. Selenski. "I am working with experts from around the world through the Open Lab Foundation, and our enthusiasm is great because of the dire need to find cures for diseases in these developing countries."

While overseas, Dr. Selenski has honed her Spanish skills through courses, daily communication with her peers, and working in a team setting. She credits Philadelphia College of Pharmacy's strong appreciation of biology for her passion to gain a global perspective on the importance of the pharmaceutical industry.

As for now, Dr. Selenski looks forward to continuing her research and development of malaria drugs and understanding their mode of action, as well as completing her final six months in Madrid. Once she returns to the States, Dr. Selenski is eager to share her experiences with her GlaxoSmithKline colleagues in North Carolina and remains open-minded regarding future professional opportunities abroad.

Dr. Selenski is a Legacy of USciences; her father is board of trustees member DONALD J. M. PHILLIPS P'70, PharmD'73. She earned her PhD in organic chemistry from the University of California Santa Barbara and completed her postdoctoral research under Robert M. Williams, PhD, a university distinguished professor at Colorado State University.

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