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USciences Education Propels Graduate’s Success Across the Pond

By Colby Gallagher

Published on January 24, 2020

Rosemary Cunningham Thomas P'86Rosemary Cunningham Thomas P’86 is now the chief executive officer of a start-up focused on developing regenerative medicine solutions for advanced wound healing in the United Kingdom, but before the years of success in medical technology, she started out like many other USciences students.

“I had my own apartment on South 42nd Street, so it was down to me to keep all the plates spinning - professionally, personally, financially, etc,” said Thomas. “I could say the entire experience prepared me to enter the workforce as a competent, responsible person.”

She knew from an early age she wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but it was a summer job in a pharmacy that led her to research pharmacy programs.

“From my perspective, the pharmacist was a repository of incredibly valuable skills and knowledge that could be deployed to help the population proactively manage their health,” said Thomas. “When I began looking at pharmacy schools, USciences stood out as a leader in pharmacy education.”

Though always a good student, Thomas said the University curriculum was rigorous and required a level of application that has helped tremendously in her career. Whether it’s working with biomedical engineers, software developers, data scientists, surgeons, industry lawyers or something entirely different, Thomas feels early exposure to scientific innovators fueled her move into the medical technology sector.

“The scientific and academic grounding of my degree gave me the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed when working with leading doctors, scientists, and academics,” she said. “The ability to understand complex scientific innovation, and then effectively work to develop new medical technologies, was most certainly underpinned by the academic rigor of the pharmacy degree program.”

Her passion for transferring scientific innovation from the lab toward mainstream adoption has proven to be in demand; in the 25 years she’s worked in the medical technology industry, Thomas has worked with multiple start-ups, helping educate and get different treatments more well known from cryoablation for solid tumors and artificial-intelligence-based virtual arthroscopy to detect cartilage damage.

Thomas first received the opportunity to pursue a career in England in after expressing interest through her employer and encourages anyone interested in international work to see what their company has to offer.

Despite the differences between American healthcare and the services offered in the United Kingdom, she felt her education and the foundation she received in previous jobs prepared her for the transition. Thomas says it’s important to do your research beforehand.

“As a start, I’d suggest networking with the target country's professional bodies and trade associations,” she said. “For example, in the UK, it is the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries or for medical technology, the Association of British Healthcare Industries.”

As of December 2019, Thomas is getting NuVision Biotherapies Ltd. up and running as their CEO. Her job is to help grow the company by developing and then commercializing their technology that uses human amniotic membrane to produce proprietary biological wound healing products.

She hopes in the next five to ten years, the start-up will be thriving and won’t need her expertise, allowing her to pursue something “slightly less hectic.” For Thomas, of course, that means challenging herself in new ways.

“I fancy doing medical writing as a side hustle,” said Thomas. “I may just enroll in the USciences Biomedical Writing Master’s Program!”

Investing in your education, no matter what your age, is something Thomas highly encourages others to do.

“Spending hard cash on your university education will most likely be one of the biggest financial investments of your life, so go into the experience with your eyes wide open about the work required,” she said. “If you commit and stay the course, you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your professional life.”

Categories: News, alumni, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration,Pharmacy,