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PhD, Business Programs Prepared Priyal Vakil for Success in Industry

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on June 6, 2019

Priyal Vakil and Dr. Isabelle MercierA curiosity to learn the entire process behind a medication, from the research behind novel drug candidates to the way the drug is ultimately delivered to patients, led Priyal Vakil PhD’19 (cell and molecular biology) on a unique path to a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Vakil, who graduated with a PhD in cell and molecular biology and a certificate in pharmaceutical healthcare business, is returning to USciences to pursue her MBA and plans to work with a consulting firm that partners with top-level pharmaceutical companies to help assist clients with research strategies, retaining market shares, and creating innovative drug medications that improve the quality of life of patients with unmet needs.

“I think these valuable insights will allow me to grow my career individually as well as achieve my long-term goal of opening my own consulting firm,” said Dr. Vakil.

As an undergraduate student at Rutgers, Dr. Vakil was undetermined about her future. She found research and decided to pursue a career in science, and was accepted to the USciences PhD program in 2014, where she received a well-rounded education and the opportunity to pursue her research interests.

Priyal Vakil“This school has provided me with all the necessary tools required to sharpen my skills in my own field of choice, given me the exposure to meet and interact with new and diverse people, and enabled me to succeed in life and achieve new peaks in my career,” said Dr. Vakil.

She credits much of her success to her advisor Dr. Isabelle Mercier who was inspirational and motivational throughout her academic career, as well as the Graduate Student Organization which created a community for her and helped to hone her leadership skills.

“I have gained better communications skills, built interpersonal relationships, and collaborated with impactful superior bodies,” said Dr. Vakil.

At the advice of Dr. Mercier, Dr. Vakil took advantage of a 6-month co-op at Merck & Co, where she was named researcher of the month in January.

“I got to interact with some of the experts in my field and sharpen my laboratory and technical skills in an industry setting,” she said. “I built some really great professional relationships, too.”

In the lab, Dr. Vakil was able to complete significant research and mentor undergraduates in the process.

Priyal Vakil“I believe my PhD from USciences has trained me well in thinking critically, gained the ability to answer thought-provoking scientific questions, and sharpened my laboratory skills,” she said. “One of the highlights of doing a PhD at USciences is that unlike other schools, they prove an opportunity to undergraduate students to have their own independent research projects with a PhD student, thus we graduate students, get to independently train undergraduates. I am proud to say that I have transformed into a great mentor that students I trained are working for top-level pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson or are enrolled in doctorate programs.”

During the MBA certification program, Dr. Vakil gained valuable insights into the pharmaceutical business, giving her a great head start to switch her career after graduation into the pharmaceutical industry. She credits Dr. Patricia Audet for giving her direction and helping to cultivate her passion for the industry.

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Biology, Student, Proven Everywhere, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business