As NPC opens applications for its Postdoctoral Health Policy Fellowship, a post-doctoral, two-year research position that seeks to bridge the gap between health research and policy analysis, we're checking in with previous NPC fellows and interns to learn more about their experiences and careers in the years following their NPC fellowship. Jan Hansen, PhD, currently Vice President, Evidence for Access Medical Unit, US Medical Affairs at Genentech, participated in NPC’s pharmaceutical internship program in 1982. Dr. Hansen chatted with us to answer a few questions about how her time at NPC impacted her work and career.
What did you as an NPC intern?
The NPC internship program at that time, in conjunction with the American Pharmacists Association, placed pharmacy students at a pharmaceutical company for a summer. Throughout that period, the intern had the opportunity to rotate through various departments within the company and get exposed to all aspects of the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industry. I interned with Syntex Corp. (which was later bought by Roche Holdings, Ltd.), where I was able to spend time on things like sales training, marketing, research (doing laboratory and chemistry work in development), helping with clinical trials, and even doing a rotation in an area that was a precursor to what became managed care. It was a great experience.
What are you doing now?
Fast forward a few years after my internship with NPC, and I’m very happy to say that I lead the medical unit in US Medical Affairs at Genentech, which is responsible for evidence generation that supports access. More specifically, this medical unit conducts health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), health services/policy and quality research, as well as other aspects of reimbursement-related research.
How did your time with NPC inform your career?
The internship really guided me down this path because without that exposure, I wouldn’t have considered alternatives to a traditional pharmacy career. It was a pivotal moment – when doing that research, I realized that patient-reported outcomes (although we didn’t call it that at the time) was something that had really caught my attention. I decided to go into further training in that area because of that interest.
My internship with NPC helped differentiate me and get skills others didn’t have. I started in the master’s program, learned more and more and more that was of interest, and ended up with a PhD, which led me to numerous roles and experiences with customer sets, researchers and other thought leaders. I’m here today because those experiences built upon each other and opened new doors each time.
What advice do you have for a prospective post-doc fellow?
Any intern or fellow should be open and embrace all possible opportunities. Any project, any initiative, any study, any experience – grab it, because you never know how it will change your outlook and potentially add to your ability to develop perspectives that are unique, and could potentially be a pivotal moment in your career. It could be a life-altering event that could send you down a different path. The best thing any intern or fellow can do is embrace those chances.