February 07, 2018

Fourth-year PharmD student, Irene Bae, is excited for her future and planning ahead for what’s beyond pharmacy school. In July 2018, she will begin a two-year, highly sought-after fellowship with Merck & Company, in Philadelphia, PA.

The Merck Quantitative Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics Fellowship is part of the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Program. The research-based scientific fellowship program leverages foundational science and physiological principles to drive decision making in drug development. Specifically, Bae will work in clinical development, with an infectious diseases focus.

The national fellowship is highly competitive with an extensive application and selection process. She was among over 700 candidates vying for 100 fellowship positions. After three rounds of interviews and an intense on-site interview at Merck, she was chosen.

The fellowship is one that greatly suits and interests her, as she was heavily involved in pre-clinical research throughout pharmacy school. “I believe that pre-clinical research is the foundation of clinical drug development and I wanted to gain hands-on experience in pre-clinical development prior to my fellowship application. My research (in pharmacy school) focused on drug-drug interactions (DDI) or drug-food interactions via transporter-mediated mechanism with tyrosine kinase inhibitors in anticancer therapy,” Bae said.

During the summer of Bae’s second year of pharmacy school, she completed a pre-doctoral fellowship with the FDA’s Office of Clinical Pharmacology, where she evaluated the effects of soft food vehicles on Pharmacokinetics (PK) between an alternative dosing and a conventional method. She became familiar with FDA regulations and guidance documents in drug development.

It was after this pre-doctoral fellowship, that Bae knew she wanted to be involved in drug development and wanted to learn more about clinical research. As such, she chose fourth-year rotations with NIH-Clinical PK and Eli Lilly-Global PK/PD/Pharmacometrics, allowing her to gain valuable experience prior to applying for post-graduate fellowships. 

Irene Bae
Irene Bae

The Clinical Pharmacology and PK/PD/Pharmacometrics Department is the heart of drug development. I've always wanted to be involved in clinical development within pharmaceutical industry to bring better therapy options for patients.

Bae hopes to gain practical skills in clinical pharmacology from the Merck fellowship. “I would love to expand my knowledge in clinical pharmacology to independently perform study protocol development, analyze PK data, and build PK modeling for an optimal dose-regimen selection for new drug development,” Bae commented.

Bae, born in South Korea and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, plans to pursue a senior scientist/clinical pharmacologist position in the pharmaceutical industry to continue her passion in drug discovery and development after the fellowship.