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If I could sum up my career in one sentence, it would be that I’ve always had a desire to help people. This is what started my journey to pharmacy school and what motivated me to pursue medical school, to practice medicine, and ultimately, it led me to where I am today — leading clinical development for Vertex’s pain program. With each chapter, I sought to broaden the potential impact I could have, starting with helping patients who came into the emergency department (ED), to pursuing clinical research and then drug development. What drives me is the opportunity to hopefully make a more global impact and the opportunity to help the most people possible in the course of one’s career.  

Check out this short video to learn more about my journey into emergency medicine, pain research and drug development:

After medical school and residency, I spent five years in full-time practice as an emergency medicine physician. I was drawn to emergency medicine because of the fast pace, the opportunities for research, and the ability to really help people during a time of need. I saw a lot of people walk through the doors of the ED in pain. Pain was the reason they came to see a doctor — it was front and center for them. I became very intrigued by how we were trying to manage pain in the ED and realized that there was room for improvement. In my experience, we tended to focus on diagnosing the problem, which sometimes meant overlooking the very real pain a patient was experiencing. It made me realize that there was, and still is, a need for innovation in the field of analgesic research, which is the study of pain and pain therapeutics. 

When I transitioned back to industry, I kept one foot in the ED for a while. I like to stay busy, but it also helped me maintain that connection to the patient experience. It was always very important for me to understand what patients were going through and what doctors were hearing from their patients. My experience in the ED and in direct patient care will always be part of what I bring to our investigational pain program at Vertex. 

And I’m certainly not alone in this work. With September being Pain Awareness Month in the U.S., I want to especially recognize the community of people who are impacted by pain — the millions of people who are currently suffering from pain, their caregivers, family members and all the clinicians who are on the front lines of treating patients. I also want to recognize my colleagues on the Vertex team who are working tirelessly to research different options for pain treatment. Just as pain isn’t necessarily something that’s visible to an outside observer, our scientists in San Diego, Boston and Oxford, U.K. have been working with tenacity for more than 20 years to advance our pain program. I truly believe we have some of the best ion channel pharmacologists and scientists — they know what’s important and how to do it, which is what enables us to investigate drugs with speed and efficiency on the preclinical side. And we’re excited about the potential our research has for patients. We aspire to develop an innovative type of pain medicine, and I’m both humbled and impressed by how the team remain committed to an area that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation for a long time. 

Thousands of patients have entered my life at various points in my career. They are what motivate me to push through challenges, and it’s a constant reminder that we must always remember to keep people, not just their diseases, at the center of what we do. Pain is a symptom as well as a disease, and I hope we can play a role in finding solutions to help patients manage their pain.