Describe your current position
I am currently a Medical Science Liaison for Transplant Genomics, a part of Eurofins Transplant Diagnostics. It is a company started by the collaboration of a kidney transplant patient and transplant clinician-scientists who desired a method to identify patients with subclinical rejection or inflammation before irreversible damage to the allograft occurs. The primary products in the portfolio right now are TruGraf gene expression profile and TRAC dd-cfDNA, which are currently in commercial use for kidney transplants, and will be available in liver transplant soon.
Describe your education/training for this job
I got my PharmD at the University of Iowa in 2006, did a PGY1 residency at UMass Memorial Medical Center, and was the inaugural PGY2 in SOT at MUSC, finishing my training in 2008. After that, I worked at Henry Ford Hospital as a transplant clinical specialist across all organs until 2012, when I took a job as a clinical specialist in SOT at MUSC. In 2015, I entered a scope of work agreement with the Department of Surgery at MUSC and funded 80% of my salary via research grants, while maintaining 20% of my time for clinical care and trainee development. In 2019, I entered the biomarker space and took my current position in November of 2020.
What inspired you to become a transplant pharmacist?
I was first inspired by the time I spent in the transplant rotation in my P4 year of pharmacy school at the University of Iowa, with Dave Thomsen and Eric Whitaker. I enjoyed the exposure to critical care, post-surgical care, and internal medicine and the relationship that the transplant pharmacists built with the patients and their families. Working with Sarah Todd, who was at UMass during my PGY1, piqued my interest even further, as I saw firsthand the dedication that she had to ensure that patients received the care and medications that they needed. During my PGY2 at MUSC, I was exposed to a variety of approaches to care through the preceptors I learned from: Dave Taber, Nicole Pilch, and Walt Uber, among others; this is where the importance and impact of the transplant pharmacist in clinic really hit home. After several years in practice and learning from colleagues and mentors about the importance of clinical outcome-based research/QI to improve processes and patient care, I was intrigued at the emergence of biomarkers and the opportunity to be involved in the development of a panel that could help provide dynamic information to assist in transplant patient care.
What do you think is the most valuable trait in a person?
Character. While this may have several definitions, I define it simply as the kind of person who will attempt to do the next right thing, even if it is at the expense of not achieving a desired outcome, as compared to a person that does whatever they think is necessary to achieve the outcome they desire. Obviously no one is perfect, and we all get sidetracked or selfish sometimes, but trying to be a person that generally lives with character is important to me.
What are you most proud of?
Probably the thing that I’m most proud of overall is learning to work so that I can have a life instead of making work my life. I tell my family that they are the most important thing in my life, so I try to act that way. Professionally, I would say that the thing I’m most proud of right now is the opportunity I had to be involved with the TRANSAFE Rx mHealth R18 project that Dave Taber led and had main outcomes published in CJASN recently. The other project that I’ve been proud of is the multidisciplinary, multimodal opioid minimization post-transplant pain regimen and educational initiative at MUSC that has reduced post-transplant opioid use significantly.
What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
Changing the cat litter box. I’m not a huge fan of cats as it is, and ours is particularly messy and stinky.
Where did you grow up?
North central Illinois in a farm town of approximately 2000 souls called Amboy.
When was the last time you turned your mobile phone completely off?
Montana, November 2020. I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell service and it was fantastic.