From Doctoral Student to Leading Clinical Trials

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Jacob Wesley

Jacob was working at John Hopkins as a lab technician while finishing up his Master’s degree when he learned about the Doctor of Pharmacy program through University of Maryland, Baltimore at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Initially, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to take courses off of the main campus, but when he learned of the up-and-coming Biotech corridor in Montgomery County, he knew USG was the right choice.

“When you work in the pharmaceutical industry, there’s not many opportunities in terms of saturated locations,” says Jacob. “Knowing I was specifically interested in Biotech, and when I saw the large biotech corridor in Montgomery County, I saw it was a great place to settle down. It’s been six years since I graduated from the Pharmacy program and I’m still living in the area.”

Jacob also appreciated that taking courses at USG would allow him to continue working full time as a lab technician, while maintaining a healthy work, life, and school balance. “I’d gone to school for a very long time,” says Jacob, “and my time pursuing my undergrad and my masters were skewed more heavily on the education aspect, and I wanted a little more schedule flexibility when pursuing my doctorate.”

Once in the program, Jacob immediately noticed the stark difference in class sizes from his previous education settings. Each of his doctoral class had 30-40 people, which was a huge change from his undergraduate organic chemistry class of about 700 students. “Any time that you get a smaller class size and you have more interaction with the professor, you’re going to get a better result, and the result is a better education,” says Jacob. “The Pharmacy classes are in cohorts, so the people I graduated with were the same group of people that I started with, which allows you to really get to know your classmates throughout the years.” In fact, one of the people that Jacob met on the first day of classes became his friend, his roommate, and later, his best man in his wedding.

“The Power of 9 is having 9 universities on 1 campus, where you are always developing and drawing from colleagues that are having a different educational experience than you.”

“I think when this program first started, some people were leery that it might be a doctorate program that was watered down, but that was no means the case; we were absolutely equivalent to the Baltimore campus,” says Jacob. “USG had a real measurable impact on my ability to land a post-doc fellowship in the area as well as to get many different offers around the nation when I graduated.”

Jacob landed a highly coveted postdoctoral fellowship at MedImmune in Gaithersburg, and was the first ever USG student to land that position. He was employed there for roughly four years after his postdoc ended before moving to his current position as Director of Senior Clinical Scientists at REGENIXBIO, Inc.

“I think my time at USG and my ability to work hard helped me land not only the postdoc fellowship at MedImmune — where they only take one fellow per year — but it helped me get offers from six different companies when I finished my education,” says Jacob.

To learn more about the Power of 9, click here


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