Author: [AUTHOR] Published on 4/1/2021 12:00:00 AM
Mohamad Shebley, PhD, Director & Research Fellow, Abbvie, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
As a clinical pharmacologist working to advance therapeutics that save and improve patients’ lives, a sense of accomplishment is achieved with every step we take forward in the drug development process. To list a few professional accomplishments, I am very proud of making a significant impact that led to the approvals of Orilissa and OriahnnTM, the first and only oral medications developed for managing specific women’s health conditions. When you are the first, it means you must carve the way for others, and without much precedence to rely on, come challenges and expectations to be innovative while maintaining a patient‐centric vision. I am also very proud of leading the clinical pharmacology program for COVID‐19 therapeutics, currently in drug development, and looking forward to advancing these assets towards saving lives and ending the pandemic.
What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned the hard way?
In drug development, collaboration must be interdisciplinary and without borders. I have learned over the years that having the best drug development plan and a great technical team is not enough to be successful in finding new medicines. Cross‐functional teams must rise above their functional lines and extend a hand to other disciplines within the drug development machine, to identify synergies and efficiency. For clinical pharmacology, I believe this is achievable through collaboration with other quantitative sciences such as statistics, pharmacometrics, epidemiology, health outcomes and economics research, systems pharmacology/biology, translational sciences, and precision medicine, under a common umbrella of interdisciplinary model‐informed drug development (i‐MIDD). ASCPT plays a critical role as a venue to establish such collaboration with its diverse members, and the broad topics covered in journal publications, annual meetings, and online webinars and resources.
Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical practice or research that you want to share with fellow members?
Communicating our science is one of the most important aspects of what we do daily as clinical pharmacologists and translational scientists. Our stakeholders in drug development look up to us as the subject matter experts, to provide actionable recommendations regarding selection of the dose and proper use of the medication. Patients are waiting for new medicines to help save or improve their lives, and we as clinical pharmacologists represent a cornerstone in achieving these goals. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make every effort to translate our quantitative science into simple and easy‐to‐understand messages. Whether it is a recommendation for conducting a clinical pharmacology study or a dosing instruction for prescribing information within a label, the art of practicing clinical pharmacology lies in intelligible communication. Not only does this increase confidence in the science of clinical pharmacology but also establishes leadership in making drug development decisions.
Resilience is another attribute that I believe is fundamental to drug research and development scientists. As a first‐generation Lebanese immigrant, and first within my family to earn a doctorate degree, resilience resonates well with me. These personal values of perseverance and resilience are aligned with my scientific approaches because drug development naturally suffers from high attrition. For clinical pharmacologists to remain on track while facing drug development failures, practicing resilience in personal life and in safe environments will train and prepare us to find solutions quickly and keep us motivated to advance the next drug development project.
When you aren’t working, how do you spend your free time?
When away from work I enjoy spending time with my family practicing martial arts, reading books, and traveling. I’m also fond of world history and politics, and am always curious to learn about other cultures and how civilizations transitioned through time, so I watch YouTube videos for quick learnings, and that usually leads to reading a book or watching a documentary.
How do you keep focused and motivated?
I believe that scientists should always seek inspiration to remain innovative and excited about their science. I try to do that by learning from other professions and industries, by following new frontiers in science and technology trends, and through conversations with friends and family members who are not in the field of science. For example, my brother is a fashion designer and entrepreneur, and he uses online imaging technologies to personalize his customers’ experience when selecting and customizing their product of choice. This concept in principle is similar to a personalized medicine approach that we recently published in CPT:PSP. In our case, the patient perspective and preferences were integrated within a quantitative framework for personalizing the dose, through a user‐friendly online application that can be utilized during conversation between the physician and patient when choosing a medical treatment.
I also try to find time to reflect and renew my energy, sometimes by taking walks, runs, or listening to instrumental classical music when drinking a cup of coffee. Back when working from the office was still possible, I used my commute time to think about new ideas or solutions for drug development challenges. Reading the scientific literature is also essential for staying focused and exploring new approaches for drug development challenges. Listening to patient stories and journeys through their disease or condition is very motivating for me and keeps me focused on the overall objective of finding and developing new medicines that will save and improve the lives of patients.
Dr. Shebley has been a member of ASCPT since 2010.