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College of Pharmacy

  • Student with Supervisor at FDA

Chen dives into drug evaluation and research during summer internship


Gamecocks on the Go: Student pharmacists reflect on summer internship and fellowship experiences of Summer 2022

Tell us about your summer internship experience:

“My summer internship was with the FDA within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s Office of Pharmacology. My supervisor and colleagues on the Pediatrics team were incredible mentors. The project I was assigned to involved sorbitol’s effect as an excipient in oral liquid formulation products indicated for pediatric patients. This involved developing further research methods for the project, along with collecting data from package inserts and recording dosing calculations. It was such a unique experience to see how pharmacists work with other professions to ensure proper drug review for products currently in development.”

What did your typical day look like as a pharmacy intern?

“Depending on the day of week, I would work on different projects, but my typical day consisted of attending meetings, researching and conducting data analysis for the project, reading articles to present for journal clubs, researching products currently in development to provide pediatric specific recommendations, or writing summary and analysis pieces on current publications related to pediatric health care. The flexibility of my hybrid schedule also allowed me to attend the webinars that Health and Human Services puts together for pharmacy students on internships and rotations at the FDA. I was able to hear from pharmacists at Indian Health Services, Bureau of Prisons, and other offices within the FDA and Commissioned Corps.” 

What was the most memorable moment from your internship?

“Picking one most memorable moment from my internship is hard, but there are two that stick out to me the most.

The first was spending the day kayaking on the Potomac River with CAPT Juliette Taylor and learning about what she does at the FDA Office of New Drugs and in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. CAPT Taylor was a connection made through networking at the SCPhA’s Women in Pharmacy Leadership Conference this past year. She was also a founding mother of my sorority, Alpha Sigma Rho, so getting to connect from an Asian American perspective as well as from a health professional perspective was priceless to me.

The second was the 2022 FDA Student Scientific Research Day. Typically, this day is a chance for each student to present the research they have been working on, but because of the pandemic, our abstracts were all published together on the FDA website. Seeing the work I had been doing published alongside every office and division’s incredible findings was really special to me as well.”

What knowledge and skills did you gain from this experience?

“I hadn’t done an official journal club before this experience, so getting to present those every week helped my analytical skills, both for science and for policy since the articles ranged from discussing legislation passed in Congress to new modeling methods to best extrapolate data for higher risk populations. I learned a lot about the specifics of drug development pathways and what reviewers are looking for in each product awaiting approval.”

Would you recommend this internship to pharmacy students in the future?

“I would highly recommend this internship to pharmacy students as it provides a health care perspective from a birds-eye view while utilizing the clinical skills we learn from our classes. Regardless of the career path you’re interested in, this internship gives a great in-depth look at what FDA does to better our drug products on the market and set the standard on a global level.”

Beyond the actual internship, what other perks or learning opportunities did you enjoy in D.C.?

“Outside of the internship itself, I really enjoyed being in the Washington D.C. area. In my free time, I was able to visit incredible museums and restaurants in the area and get to know to the other interns. My co-intern, Amber Glenn, was APhA-ASP chapter president at the University of Oklahoma and I met students from pharmacy schools in California and Michigan. In addition, I was able to see one of our Gamecock pharmacy alums, Meg Murphy.” 

What’s next for you? 

“I’m definitely trying to make the most of my last didactic year. I’m excited to continue working at Nephron as well as being a part of the initiatives that APhA-ASP, Phi Delta Chi, and SSHP are pursuing this year. I have also been working with other students to bring the Industry Pharmacists Organization to our campus, which received provisional approval this semester. I’m on a research team with Dr. Almgren at Nephron, continuing research with Dr. Teng to develop a manuscript, and hopefully working with Dr. Yunusa to learn more about drug development from a clinical perspective!”

Nikki Chen

About Nikki Chen

Nikki Chen is a third-year pharmacy student at the UofSC College of Pharmacy from Columbia, South Carolina. She is interested in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical industry or regulatory affairs with a focus on justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. During the school year, Nikki works as an intern at Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation. She is a Walker Leadership Scholar for the Class of 2024.

Topics: Student Experience, Pharm.D. Program


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