Dr. David Singer is a HEOR value demonstration manager at Boehringer Ingelheim who graduated from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in 2016. Before continuing his postgraduate education through a fellowship from Thomas Jefferson University and Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC, Dr. Singer went on a backpacking trip across Thailand and became a certified scuba diver! Among professors and students at ESOP, Dr. Singer is regarded as an extremely helpful and genuine individual. For this week’s alumni feature, Sit with Senate’s Jessie Kim interviewed Dr. David Singer about his time at ESOP, his career path, and his research endeavors.
Sit with Senate: How did your career path start and eventually lead you to where you are now?
Dr. Singer: My career path started with an interest in both managed care pharmacy and research. I pursued both of these interests in pharmacy school through involvement in the UNC Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Student Chapter and through involvement in the Honors Program. Based on my experiences in these co-curricular activities and APPE experiences, I decided that a post-doctoral fellowship in health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) would be the best way to develop my skills. This path would help me develop as a researcher and provide the foundation for a career where I could impact health at a population level. My experience during fellowship led me to pursue a full-time position in HEOR at a pharmaceutical company. Boehringer Ingelheim was a great fit for my interests and is where I currently work, supporting pipeline, specialty, and respiratory therapeutic areas.
SwS: Why did you choose to be in an industry field?
DS: I chose to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry based on my experience as an HEOR fellow with Thomas Jefferson University and Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC. During this 2-year fellowship program, I spent time in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry. I found my experiences in the pharmaceutical industry to be a better fit for my personality and interests. The pharmaceutical industry is fast moving, highly collaborative, and full of opportunities for growth.
SwS:Can you tell us about your day-to-day responsibilities at Boehringer Ingelheim?
DS: My day-to-day varies significantly and this is one of the reasons I enjoy working in industry. In general, a day at the office consists of at least a few meetings to discuss research projects with other researchers and with partners from different parts of the company. I often spend time reviewing aspects of studies I’m involved in or that my colleagues are involved in, reading scientific literature, and keeping up with current events in healthcare. A few times a year, I travel to conferences to present my research.
SwS: What is your favorite part about your job?
DS: My favorite part of my job is the opportunity to develop and then answer research questions. While there are many aspects of my job that I enjoy, such as working with a diverse team and variability in the types of the work I do, I find it very rewarding to generate evidence to fill gaps in knowledge.
SwS: If you could give one piece of advice to current students, what would it be?
DS: Make the most of your time in school to learn and experience as much as you can. Pharmacy school is a great environment to investigate a wide variety of careers and subjects within pharmacy, so take advantage of this. UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is very fortunate to have many outlets for learning beyond the classroom – get involved in student organizations, research, and projects or work outside the curriculum.
SwS: What activities did you participate in as a pharmacy student, and how did they help shape your career or perspective on the profession of pharmacy?
DS: During pharmacy school, I was involved in student organizations, conducted research, and worked as both a pharmacy intern and consulting intern. When I started pharmacy school, the UNC AMCP Student Chapter had just been founded and I was excited to get involved. During my time as a student, I attended each AMCP national conference and served as chapter president, then as a member of the organization’s Student Pharmacist Committee at the national level. Active involvement in AMCP helped build a network and provided a way to learn about the US healthcare system. Research also shaped my experience and career path. Through the Honors Program, I connected with Dean Wendy Cox, PharmD, who was leading an effort to redesign the interview process for prospective PharmD candidates. As a student interested in research and hoping to give back to the School, I helped in the redesign of the interview process, then collaborated on assessing the new process. By the time I graduated, Dean Cox, Dr. Jacqi McLaughlin, PhD, and I wrote three manuscripts together describing the findings of our evaluations of the interview process, all of which were published in peer reviewed journals. Between involvement in AMCP and educational research, I knew a career in research, especially research that could inform healthcare decision making or policy, was the path for me.
SwS: How can current students make themselves competitive candidates for the field of pharmaceutical industry?
DS: To be competitive for a career in the pharmaceutical industry, it is important to understand the different functions within a pharmaceutical company and how the healthcare system, especially the US healthcare system, drives the business. Student organization involvement can help build this understanding – I learned so much through involvement in AMCP. Rotations and internships are also a valuable way to learn about the industry, whether at a pharmaceutical company, biotech company, managed care organization, or consulting firm. I also encourage students to pursue research since this can help you stand out, build strong relationships, and teach project management skills which are often important to a career in industry. It’s also important to note that there are a wide variety of roles in the pharmaceutical industry and they can require very different preparation (e.g. HEOR vs marketing vs medical information).
SwS: What are some of your hobbies?
DS: I enjoy being outdoors in my free time and love to hike when I have time. When it isn’t too cold outside, I also love to run. Traveling, if this counts as a hobby, is another favorite activity. After living in Philadelphia for two years, I might consider food a hobby as well since the city has amazing food. Also, trying different kinds of food while traveling is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a trip.
SwS: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring and why?
DS: If I were stranded on a desert island, I would bring a (1) satellite phone to call for help, a (2) water purification kit to help me stay hydrated until help arrived, and (3) flares to signal my rescuers when they arrived.