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I am ASCPT: Karthik Venkatakrishnan

Author: [AUTHOR] Published on 1/1/2022 12:00:00 AM

K Venkatakrishnan
Karthik Venkatakrishnan, PhD, Vice President, Global Head of Quantitative Pharmacology, EMD Serono, Billerica, MA

What Professional Accomplishment Are You Most Proud of?
I really enjoyed and learned a lot from the experience of chairing the ASCPT Scientific Program Committee (SPC) during the presidency of Russ Altman, MD, PhD, in close partnership with ASCPT’s CEO Sharon Swan. They were amazing role models and took a genuine interest in helping shape my leadership development. They enabled and empowered me to lead a stellar group of highly engaged volunteer leaders and I am proud of the SPC’s efforts that shaped the ASCPT 2014 Annual Meeting Program. I am also proud of what we accomplished together during my leadership of Quantitative Clinical Pharmacology at Takeda Oncology. It was professionally very rewarding as I was able to build deep trust globally in the organization and importantly with members of my team. We worked hard and with tremendous agility and importantly learned a lot from each other tackling complex scientific and strategic problems in the development of oncology therapeutics. Several of our work products resulted in important publications and opinioned articles in the area of Oncology Clinical Pharmacology, such as risk assessment for DDIs, strategies for maximizing value of pharmacodynamic biomarkers, and opportunities for our discipline to catalyze and enable science-driven Asia-inclusive global development. During this period of my professional career, I had the opportunity to mentor and develop people into important leadership roles in the organization and their success has brought me the most happiness.

Who Has Inspired You In Your Career?
I have been very fortunate to cross paths with many inspirational mentors, scientists, and leaders over the course of my career. My PhD advisor, David Greenblatt, MD, inspired me through his purpose-driven industriousness, bold scientific inquiry, exceptional humility, and tireless passion for mentorship and scientific writing. He taught me the importance of believing in myself. Another noteworthy source of inspiration was Neeraj Gupta, PhD, with whom I had the privilege of working with for 10 years of thinking through many challenges and opportunities for clinical pharmacology in oncology drug development. He showed me how success can be achieved with a laser-focused drive for results balanced with genuinely empathetic leadership fueled by the power of trust.

What is Your Favorite Society Memory?
I have many warm memories of my engagement with ASCPT, so it is hard to pick one. When posed with this question, my mind flashes back to the ASCPT Annual Meeting in 2004 that was held at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel. It was a splendid location and I was attending the meeting as an early career scientist. At the time, I was a drug disposition scientist at Pfizer with a keen interest in the quantitative translation of the science of DDIs to clinical therapeutics. During the ASCPT poster session, when I was presenting my research in the area, Pfizer’s then Head of Clinical Pharmacology, Lisa Benincosa, PhD, visited my poster. I was initially nervous but was soon deeply inspired by her curiosity in my work and the richly engaging scientific discussion that followed. This chance encounter at the ASCPT poster session catalyzed further career conversations that I’m very grateful for, as they enabled my transfer to the Clinical Pharmacology department at Pfizer, where I could pursue my passion for clinical pharmacology applied in drug development and learn from so many wonderful mentors and leaders at the Pfizer Clinical Pharmacology organization. To date, Dr. Benincosa has been a major mentor and role model for me, and I am grateful to ASCPT for catalyzing this important connection.

What Was Your Childhood Dream Job?
During my childhood, I always wanted to become a physician. Reading package inserts of medicines prescribed in the family was a favorite activity, making my interests in pharmacotherapy homegrown long before I entered pharmacy school. While the dream of becoming a physician was not achieved, I am glad that as a clinical pharmacologist in the era of patient-focused drug development, I have been able to come close in spirit to what I had wished for. In this context, I think back to what John Wagner, MD, PhD, Past President of ASCPT and a senior leader in my past organization, always said to keep us motivated—Patients are waiting. This is something I believe should direct our journeys as clinical pharmacologists and translational scientists.

Dr. Venkatakrishnan has been a member of ASCPT since 2003.

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