September 22, 2021

John Andrew Lee, PharmD'13, shares his experience and advice as a Medical Science Liaison. 

U-M Pharmacy: What was your most memorable learning experience or impactful faculty mentor?

Dr. Lee: Collectively, the most memorable learning experience has been the PharmD P4 Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) Experiential rotations. The College has an amazing network of in-state and out-of-state APPE sites, and I was able to even go to the FDA at the Office of Clinical Pharmacology (OCP). The most impactful faculty mentors have been interim Dean Dr. Bruce Mueller as well as Dr. Michael Kraft. Their perspectives into future pharmacy career opportunities and what's possible made such an impact to me as a student.

U-M Pharmacy: What was your favorite extracurricular activity?

Dr. Lee: My favorite extracurricular activities during the College were the friendships and memories that formed while going through the PharmD program as well as within the various Student Organizations. Lifelong learning has always been a strong integral part of the PharmD program here, but lifelong friendships and memories are additional things that stand out and often cherished by numerous alumni, including myself. Something as simple as studying throughout the night with fellow classmates in the pharmacy lounge (then getting late-night pizza from Pizza House) or as big as Pharmacy Day at the Capitol, Lineage Cook-Offs, and Speed Networking events are small examples of fond memories.

U-M Pharmacy: How did your fellow alumni or professional network impact your career?

Dr. Lee: My fellow alumni and professional network highly impacted and shaped my career. From my faculty mentors interim Dean Dr. Bruce Mueller and Dr. Michael Kraft to Dr. Susan Lignell (PharmD 1994), I started to realize that every PharmD graduate is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that you can model your own success off of. Even something tangible as going through P4 APPE rotations, I started picking up the admirable characteristics I saw in my preceptors (whether nontraditional, institutional, or community-based) and subsequently implemented them into my own behaviors. My perspective on lifelong learning is to have the attitude of growth mindset within my career progression in order to be better than the person I was yesterday.

U-M Pharmacy: Tell us about your current position.

Dr. Lee: I began my journey at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Immuno-Oncology in 2015 as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) and I have been here since, launching 10 different immunotherapy FDA approvals with Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab). In this role, I have conducted scientific exchange with therapeutic experts to advance the science of oncology through pre-clinical/clinical trials and strategic collaborations within the Greater Chicago Area. As a Senior MSL, I served as the National Therapeutic Area Co-Lead for Lung Cancer at BMS and have mentored numerous MSLs over the years by guiding new hires in understanding Lung, Head and Neck, Breast, and Glioblastoma malignancies. Most recently, I was promoted as the Regional Field Medical MSL Associate Director, Immuno-Oncology (Central Region) at BMS in now managing 6 MSLs as direct reports through coaching and peer-mentoring.

U-M Pharmacy: How did you discover this career path?

Dr. Lee: I discovered this career path during Pharmacy 727 "Career and Professional Development" (formerly Pharmacy 550 "Opportunities in Pharmacy"). Dr. Kraft had different alumni come in and conduct mock interviews/CV reviews in various career paths. I chose the pharmaceutical industry track and I was introduced to fellow alumni Dr. Susan Lignell (PharmD 1994). Dr. Lignell was able to provide me an overview of nontraditional roles in the pharmaceutical industry, and I became enamored on the various opportunities within this sector. Thereafter, Dr. Lignell became my mentor throughout the process of identifying postdoctoral pharmaceutical industry fellowships. After receiving my PharmD in 2013, I went on to the University of North Carolina (UNC) for my Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Research and Oncology Drug Development (2013-2015) and the rest is history!

U-M Pharmacy: What advice do you have for students interested in this career path?

Dr. Lee: My biggest advice is to not be afraid to reach out to fellow alumni from the College. We have some incredibly talented alumni in some amazing and unique career paths. Especially during the P3/P4 year, start reaching out and setting up some times to chat 1:1 with those individuals that you'd like to model off of and follow. Just remember, the opportunity is always there...all you have to do is reach out and take ownership.