Student Hightlight Interviews

Amit Somani, PhD

The Student Outreach Committee wishes to thank Dr. Amit Somani for sharing his professional experience with us. Dr. Somani obtained his PhD from Virginia Commonwealth Univ, was a Clinical Pharmacology and Translation Medicine Intern at Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, a Clinical Pharmacology Post-doctoral Fellow at the School of Pharmacy, Virginia Commonwealth Univ and most recently is a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology (CPSP) in Orlando, Florida, which is affiliated to the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. He is currently working as a Sr Scientist in the pharmaceutical industry.

How long have you been a Member of ACCP? I joined ACCP in October 2012.

Please describe your studies/research? I recently finished a postdoctoral fellowship with Drs. Lawrence J. Lesko and Stephan Schmidt at the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology (CPSP) in Orlando, (Lake Nona) Florida which is affiliated to the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. During my postdoctoral work, I had the opportunity to work on a couple of projects. One of the projects dealt with evaluating the oral drug absorption changes in preterm neonates from the time of birth. Another project dealt with determining the value of information from pharmacokinetic drug-drug interaction studies for FDA approved new molecular entities.

Why did you choose the field of clinical pharmacology? Right during my pharmacy school days in India, I developed an interest to work in the field of clinical pharmacology, clinical research and biopharmaceutics. The unmatched opportunity these disciplines offer to make a difference in the lives of patients by helping develop drug therapy to fulfill unmet patient needs excited me a lot. My experiences at the Center for Drug Studies (CDS) at the School of Pharmacy at Virgnia Commonwealth University (VCU) as a graduate student further deepened my interest in these disciplines. Additional experiences during the internship at the Clinical Pharmacology and Translational Medicine Department at Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals and CPSP further solidified my interests to pursue a career in the field of clinical pharmacology and pharmacometrics.

Who was most influential to you in selecting your career path? Dr. William H. Barr, my major advisor during PhD has been the most influential individual in choosing my career path and preparing me to excel in a career in the pharmaceutical industry after finishing my PhD. His unwavering support and encouragement is the reason for my continued success in the field. I will always be grateful for the experience I received as a graduate student under his mentorship at VCU. Also, many thanks to Drs. Lawrence J. Lesko and Stephan Schmidt for giving me the opportunity to work as a post doctoral research associate at the CPSP. I am very thankful to Dr. Lesko for always believing in me and helping me get to the next stage of my career. From my PhD and postdoctoral experiences, I strongly feel that having mentors who believe in a student or fellow is crucial for the overall development of an individual. I was very fortunate to find some excellent mentors so far in my career who have helped me grow, both personally and professionally, more than I ever thought was possible. I look forward to their continued support in the years ahead.

What advice would you give to another Student considering membership in ACCP? I have greatly enjoyed knowing and being associated with ACCP over the last couple of years. I cannot emphasize enough how useful it is for students/postdoctoral fellows with an interest in clinical pharmacology to get involved with an organization such as this.

What qualities have you worked on during your graduate studies to become a successful scientist? Getting well-rounded education, developing diverse skill sets, learning software essential to be effective in clinical pharmacology teams in pharmaceutical industry or regulatory agency, gaining experience of working in a lab setting as well as a clinical setting and communication skills, both written and oral. Reaching out and finding good mentors is essential to get a good launching pad and continued growth in one’s career.

How has involvement in ACCP helped shape your career and what benefits have you enjoyed as a result of being an ACCP member (Mentoring, Committees, posters at Annual Meetings, etc.?) Being the member of ACCP has greatly helped me so far in my career. Last year, I was a recipient of one of the 8 outstanding Student Abstract Awards. I am very thankful to the committee for presenting me with this award out of the many abstracts they received for consideration to the same. In addition, I was invited for a podium presentation to share my research findings. Special thanks to Dr. Stephan Schmidt for giving me the opportunity to work on this research project that dealt with evaluating oral drug absorption changes with age in preterm neonates for Biopharmaceutics Classfication System (BCS) compounds I and II. ACCP provided the award winners an opportunity to present a poster about their research for all three days during the meeting. I highly recommend for students/postdoctoral fellows to present a poster and attend the Annual Meeting. Being at the ACCP meeting provides you an excellent opportunity to know and interact with many fellow clinical pharmacologists and leaders in the field, many of whom you may be working with in the future in some capacity.

How would you recommend that students get involved in the various initiatives of the college? I would highly recommend for students to avail the opportunity of presenting their research at the ACCP Annual Meeting. I haven’t myself had the opportunity to be involved in the Student Outreach committee, but I feel that is an excellent way to get involved early in the various initiatives of the College while students are still in graduate school. Networking is the key early on for one’s personal and professional development. ACCP provides an excellent platform for students to meet and interact with the leaders in the field and fellow colleagues in the discipline of clinical pharmacology.

Please tell us about your experience as a Student at the ACCP Annual Meeting or on an ACCP Committee? The organizing committee does a phenomenal job organizing the ACCP Annual Meeting. I want to thank Ms. Krista Levy, Ms. Erica Serow and Ms. Keri Sperry for their efforts in making sure that the meeting is a big success. They are very approachable and always there to answer any questions big/small or assist in any possible way they can.

What networking opportunities are available for students attending the ACCP annual meeting? Students have various opportunities to network during the poster sessions, breakfast sessions and evening receptions during the ACCP Annual Meeting. I have personally benefited immensely while attending the ACCP meeting this year where I had the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow scientists beginning their careers and many indiviudals who are leaders of the field. From my experience, such interactions can get you a lead into opportunities that otherwise would never have been possible. From my experience in attending various annual meetings organized by several professional organizations, this is by far one of the best and most focused meetings for students/fellows interested in the field of clinical pharmacology.

What are some of the long term benefits of getting involved in ACCP as a student? Students have several long term benefits such as finding mentors for advice, exposure to latest developments in the field of clinical pharmacology, networking opportunities and developing leadership skills.

What do you do when not working (i.e. other activities like sports, art, music etc.)? Volunteer for various organizations, spending time with my wife Anal Shah and loved ones, singing, cooking, dancing and running.