Education - Page 1 - Addressing workforce needs

- Page 1
Addressing workforce needs
STEM jobs continue to grow in Maryland

By Linda L. Esterson, Contributing Writer

As a family physician in Nigeria, Abimbola Onasanya, M.D., had a passion for preventive medicine, treating patients before a hospitalization occurs. She filled a variety of roles including case management, and she was exposed to patients suffering from adverse drug reactions.

“That really bothered me,” says Onasanya, who made up her mind that she wanted to work to ensure drugs and medical products sold are safe for patients.

Onasanya came to the United States in 2015 and was a stay-at-home mom. She decided to pursue her passion and enrolled in August 2017 in the regulatory science master’s program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, one of the top 10 programs in the U.S.

Through the University of Maryland, Baltimore program, she attends seminars, visits the Food & Drug Administration and meets with regulators, and has the opportunity to meet others in the industry. She also volunteers at Johns Hopkins Hospital as a clinical research fellow.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore master’s program is designed for working professionals. Students choose to participate online or in person, and can review pre-recorded lectures and attend web conferences all through an internet connection. Team projects group students of varying backgrounds from all over the world to offer exposure to different areas like chemistry manufacturing control, clinical research, pharmaco-vigilance and others, according to James
E. Polli, Ph.D., professor and Ralph F. Shangraw/Noxell endowed chair in industrial pharmacy and pharmaceutics, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

“It’s needed because it’s very hard to learn about how drugs and biologics are discovered and assessed,” Polli explains. “Students bring backgrounds in chemistry but may have never taken drug courses, so they don’t know about the discovery, research, post-marketing and surveillance of drugs.”

The coursework helps students accelerate in their current positions, providing an understanding of how drugs are developed and assessed and how to deal with roadblocks. Others may desire to move into a pharmaceutical position. Employment is available in a variety of areas including medical affairs, regulatory affairs, drug development, drug safety and quality control with employers like the FDA, biopharmaceutical companies, contract research and development facilities, and the National Institutes of Health, Polli says.

Onasanya sees the industry’s growth as continual to ensure that all products are “properly screened, well-regulated and safe” and that the role of the regulatory scientist will provide a long-term impact on the medical industry.

In August, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) became the administrative arm of the Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP), which provides funding for employers that offer STEM related internships. The program endeavors to help the state retain top talent, according to Christine Routzahn, director of UMBC’s Career Center.

STEM, continued on page 8