Ask The Expert Interviews

ACCP Student Outreach Committee Interview: Bernd Meibohm, PhD, FCP

Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, College of Pharmacy, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN

Please describe your current work/research? My scientific interests include pulmonary infectious and inflammatory diseases, pediatric pharmacotherapy and the application of quantitative modeling and simulation techniques in preclinical and clinical drug development, with specific focus on biotech drugs. I have currently six graduate students and two postdocs working with me on a variety of projects in these areas.

Why did you choose the field of clinical pharmacology? By training, I am a pharmacist. Thus, use of medications in a rational, scientific way has always interested me. The discipline of clinical pharmacology is the basis for rational dose selection and applied pharmacotherapy in patients.

How did you break into the field after completing your education? After completion of my PhD education, I pursued postdoctoral training in clinical pharmacology with focus on PK/PD modeling and simulation, thereby broadening my skill set and scope of interest. Subsequently, I took an academic position. Especially at the beginning of an academic career, collaborative research is crucial as it allow access to resources and multidisciplinary expertise. I was fortunate to have the opportunity collaborate with experienced scientists from a variety of fields.

Who was most influential to you in selecting your career path? Clearly my PhD advisor Dr. Claus Führer and my postdoctoral mentor Dr. Hartmut Derendorf encouraged my career choices and opened opportunities to pursue areas of interest in clinical pharmacology.

What advice would you give a new and upcoming clinical pharmacologist? It is of crucial importance that students pursue work in areas they are interested in, as opposed to the hot topics of the day. As they dedicate much of their professional life to these research questions, they need to be genuinely interested in them and be passionate about them. Only then will they put in the time and effort that is necessary to reach their fullest potential.

In your opinion, what qualities should a student work on during their graduate studies to become a successful scientist? Students need to be persistent and confident in their abilities to succeed in their career. Science has oftentimes bumps in the road that may easily discourage young scientists from pursuing the career they aspire.

Of your various positions, which has presented the biggest challenge and why? Each position has its own challenges, whether you are a student, a faculty member, or an administrator. It feel communication is a key aspect in any position as you will have to interact with many different individuals that may have diverging interests, views and characters. Your success in any of these positions will depend on your ability to successfully work with the individuals in your environment.

How do you distribute your time over research, teaching, meetings, traveling, consulting? Time management is often challenging, and one can get easily caught up in spending too much time in any of these areas. Prioritization of tasks and collaborative work are ultimately the key tools to manage the multiple tasks and commitments one has to deal with.

In your career, what are you most proud of? The most gratifying part of my career is to see my students succeed. This includes their academic and research work at the university, as well as their professional careers once they have taken jobs in industry , academia or government agencies. Serving as facilitator to enable their scientific and intellectual abilities, and seeing them become more focused and oftentimes more passionate about their scientific interests is for me the main incentive to work in academia.

What do you do when not working (i.e. other activities like sports, art, music etc.)? I spend time with my family, enjoy gardening, and relax at the pool.