HomeBorum LabAlumni Spotlight – Rowshan Chowdhury

Alumni Spotlight - Rowshan Chowdhury

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Rowshan M. Chowdhury

Clinical Trial Leader II
Associate Director
MCPHS/NIBR TCO Fellowship Program

We asked Rowshan and this is what he shared with us.

Feb 2011 – May 2013

I was part of the piglet model subteam that was exploring the development of a premature piglet model.  We explored the effects of a hyperoxic environment on the development of retinopathy, epilepsy, and other associated comorbidities. Additionally, I also worked on a pharmacoeconomic project assessing the cost of ketogenic therapy vs. epileptic medication therapy, as well as exploratory data mining of acylcarnitines in human and piglet plasma samples.

After graduating from UF in the Spring of 2013, I started pharmacy school at the USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy.  After my first year of pharmacy school, I interviewed and obtained an informatics internship with Dr. Aimon Miranda, who recognized my non-traditional skillset as a pharmacy student.  We went to work on a few mHealth projects together, leading to two publications.  When it was time to think about post graduate training, it was natural to explore pathways that would allow me to continue impacting the clinical research space.  I then interviewed for and was offered the MCPHS/NIBR TCO Fellowship where I learned how to start, execute, and closeout early development oncology clinical trials, while maintaining my academic responsibilities to MCPHS University.  I was offered a full time position with Novartis afterwards and have remained here since, taking over as Associate Director for the fellowship program and helping train future generations of industry pharmacists in the development of phase I hematology/oncology studies

Working with Dr. Borum places high expectations on yourself as the goals of the lab are bigger than yourself.  Being part of the lab introduces you to the principles of clinical research, good lab practices, scientific collaboration, data entry and review, as well as learning how to analyze this data.  Additionally, I picked up technical skills that have served me to this day (and was a factor in me obtaining both my informatics internship during pharmacy school as well as the fellowship at NIBR).  

I learned the basics of clinical research from Dr. Borum so it was not surprising to me to see how I had already seen a lot of what I was being taught.  The attention to detail required for accurate data review (especially when looking at patient medical data), as well being able to recognize patterns in the data were two skills that were already well developed by the time I started the program.  Being in lab also teaches you time management as well as project management so it was also not surprising that I had been able to pick-up lean/six sigma concepts and apply it to the way I approached study management.  The last thing is the pursuit of excellence and demanding more of myself.  Having the privilege of interacting with the ketogenic therapy patients and their caregivers has left a lasting impression on me that I owe it to any patient who was on, currently on, or will be on one of my studies at NIBR my best. As the patients on my studies have reached the edge of what we understand in medicine and are often times trying to get a little more time (however much it maybe), I work with a sense of urgency knowing that while I can expect to have another tomorrow, that might not be the case for them.

Dr. Borum is an exceptional mentor and there are a number of characteristics about her that I try to emulate as I precept my fellows.  First, she does a great job of being able to bring the conversation to a level to be inclusive of everyone.  Often times, experts can speak in such technical terms they end up having conversations with themselves.  Her ability to explain concepts at different levels is a useful skill to have in the pharmaceutical industry, and is something I try to develop with my fellows.  Additionally, she made us a priority when I was in lab.  I will never forget how when some of our lab members came back from a conference they attended with her, they told us there were other researchers/scientists begging for a minute of her time to discuss an idea. How lucky we were to have her literally a door knock away.  In a similar sense, I have made my fellows a priority because of the time Dr. Borum gave to us as undergraduates.  And lastly, I demand a lot from my fellows because of the standards that Dr. Borum held me to when I was with her.  What we do is bigger than ourselves, and we should treat this opportunity as such.

I really enjoyed working on the acylcarnitine and pharmacoeconomics projects (as well as the data we reviewed from the piglet experiments).  I am definitely a numbers/analytics person so it was some of the more stimulating work I had the opportunity to take part in (and developed skills that come in handy here at NIBR).  Additionally, there were two patients (twins) that I had the privilege of being part of their onboarding to the keto study.  One of them died a week later due to unknown causes (presumably due to their underlying disease).  I have never forgotten the pain from that day. It’s why I am willing to do whatever it takes to speed up the delivery of a study (without compromising the integrity of it) to clinic since our patients may not have the time to be able to wait.

Experimental Biology 2012.  That was the first time in my life that I felt like I belonged in the scientific community.

You will ultimately get back whatever you put in during your time in lab. Make it count.