Expertise

Overview

I'm a medical science liaison with the respiratory portfolio team at GlaxoSmithKline. I manage field medical affairs and scientific engagement for GSK's asthma and COPD medicines in south Texas.

Prior to joining GSK, I earned my Ph.D. in Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I worked with Professor Peter Dedon. I studied infectious diseases, immunology, and global health. My research explored the role of DNA and RNA modifications in bacterial pathogenesis and host inflammation. Such modifications have potential utility as both diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets, and I sought to understand and exploit that utility. My work combined animal models of disease, techniques from microbiology and biochemistry, and the development of new analytical tools to create a quantitative approach to biology.

I focused on infections that constitute a significant global disease burden, and I'm most excited by the challenge of translating biomedical research into meaningful diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. To that end, I designed a minor in Global Health, combining courses from Harvard Medical School and the MIT Sloan School of Management to complement my research. This course of study gave me a strong set of skills for solving complex healthcare problems with a comprehensive approach. A more detailed deacription of my global health training is provided below.

With my rigorous training and diverse background, I offer a unique combination of biomedical expertise, superior communication skills, and keen life science business acumen.

Doctoral Research

Nucleic Acid Modifications in Bacterial Pathogens – Impact on Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Therapy

Nucleic acids are subject to extensive chemical modification by all organisms. These modifications display incredible structural diversity, and some are essential for survival. Intriguingly, several of these modifications are unique to bacteria, including many human pathogens. Given the enormous global disease burden due to bacterial infections, and the rapidly increasing rates of antibiotic resistance reported across the world, the need for research to address mechanisms of bacterial survival is more pressing than ever. The goal of this thesis was to determine the function of nucleic acid modifications in pathogenic bacteria, and to evaluate their impact on the three major stages of the infectious disease process: pathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapy.

I first used quantitative profiling of tRNA modifications to identify novel stress responses that help mediate host invasion in the world's most common pathogen, Helicobacter pylori. This work uncovered potentially novel targets for the development of new compounds that inhibit pathogenesis. I then developed a new animal model of mycobacterial lung infection that enables drug development and biomarker screening studies in standard laboratories without high-containment facilities. I showed that infection with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette–Guérin produces a granulomatous lung disease in rats that recapitulates many of the important pathological features of human tuberculosis. This model also allowed me to test the utility of nucleic acid modifications as diagnostic biomarkers. Finally, I investigated the effect of the common, transferable bacterial DNA modification phosphorothioation on oxidative and antibiotic stress responses in several pathogens. I showed that phosphorothioation can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy, which may make it an environmental source of acquired antibiotic resistance.

Together, these studies showed that nucleic acid modifications play diverse roles in pathogenic bacteria, and that their modulation may be a promising target for developing new tools that can disrupt pathogenesis, improve diagnosis, and strengthen therapy. Thefull text of this thesis is freely available from the MIT Library.

Global Health Training

Introduction to Global Medicine with Prof. Byron J. Good

This course explored the basic themes in social medicine via a specific examination of issues in global medicine. The course goal was to understand new paradigms for global health that focus on providing complex medical services to treat complicated health conditions (e.g., multi-drug resistant TB, HIV/AIDS, and mental health problems) in low-resource settings. Special attention was paid to the development of new technologies or adapting existing technologies in ways that enable new solutions to global health problems, as well as overcoming barriers to translation of medical technologies for use in settings of great need. We also addressed classic themes of social inequalities and health disparities, and issues such as patenting and the development and delivery of pharmaceuticals or other biotechnologies in international context. Our work was supplemented with presentations by Harvard faculty involved in global health, basic or clinical research with a global reach, or medical humanitarian activities.

Ethics of Intervention with Prof. Erica C. James

This course was an historical and cross-cultural study of the logics and practices of intervention: the ways that individuals, institutions, and governments identify conditions of need or states of emergency within and across borders that require a response. We examined when a response is viewed as obligatory, when is it deemed unnecessary, and by whom; when the intercession is considered fulfilled; and the rationales or assumptions that are employed in assessing interventions. We also addressed theories of the state, globalization, and humanitarianism; power, policy, and institutions; gender, race, and ethnicity; and law, ethics, and morality.

Economics of Healthcare Industries with Prof. Ernst R. Berndt

This course focused on economic issues in various healthcare and allied industries, such as the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, vaccine and diagnostic sectors. We addressed differences between healthcare and other industries; regulatory issues, in the US and globally, that involve establishing of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of treatments; managing those who manage research and development; policies to incentivize research and development for neglected tropical diseases; strategic issues in global pricing and marketing; use of e-commerce and information technology; personalized/stratified medicines and diagnostic biomarkers; and formation and management of various alliances. Our work was supplemented by guest speakers from academia, government, NGOs, and industry.

Business Model Innovation for Global Health with Dr. Anjali Sastry

This course focused on what works—and what doesn’t work—in innovative startups and leading-edge organizations that are remaking healthcare delivery across the globe. We explored successful approaches to delivering healthcare in challenging or resource-poor settings. To frame the issues and opportunities, we analyzed varied organizations, asking why some fall short while others grow to scale and contribute to the health of the people they serve. Our understanding of challenges and opportunities set the context for the course’s ongoing exploration of promising business model and social enterprise innovations. Our work was an engaging mix of theoretical content, case studies, student investigations, and industry guest speakers.