I am ASCPT: Matthew Rizk

Author: [AUTHOR] Published on 6/1/2023 12:00:00 AM

Matt Rizk
Matthew Rizk, PhD, Executive Director, Merck & Co., Inc, Doylestown, PA

What are you looking forward to about being ASCPT President in 2024–2025?
I am so very excited to contribute to ASCPT as President-Elect and then President. I look forward to building on the success we have had in 2023 to come back to an in-person Annual Meeting, to enhance the impact of our journals, and to launch a slate of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Looking ahead to 2024–2025, I am eager to engage with our members in new ways to continue to build a great sense of community across ASCPT in a manner that is inclusive of our diverse backgrounds, professional arenas, and career stages. In other words, I am really looking forward to continuing to explore various ways that we can make every ASCPT member feel both proud to be a part of the Society and to feel membership provides clear value in their personal and professional development.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Very early in my career, I worked on a couple of programs that did not progress in the clinic. I then took on an assignment to support a new anti-infective to treat drug-resistant bacteria. This turned into a career highlight, as I had the opportunity to follow the drug development arc for this medicine that is now called RECARBRIO all the way from translational efforts prior to entering the clinic through regulatory approval. Knowing that I have had a hand in developing medicines that are now being used to impact the lives of patients around the world is incredibly rewarding and motivating.

Who has inspired you in your career?
Historically, I would point to Dr. Maurice Hilleman, who is considered to be the father of modern vaccines and whose vaccines have been estimated to save nearly eight million lives each year. I have the privilege to work at the same site in Pennsylvania where Dr. Hilleman developed over 40 vaccines and find this incredibly inspiring and humbling. In my own career, I have had wonderful mentors that I have been able to confide in, emulate, and lean on for advice. Their mentorship has taught me to focus on the impact we can have on patients, give my full efforts and be a good partner on teams, and not let distractions lose my focus. I believe that each of us, no matter our career stage, should both have and be a mentor.

What is your favorite society memory?
I look back so fondly to my time serving as an Infectious Disease Community leader. Being able to interact and collaborate with such wonderful individuals across academia, regulatory, and industry who all shared a passion for improving the lives of patients battling infectious diseases was wonderful, and led to several fruitful collaborations including the creation of a steering committee for the community, collaborating across community leadership to author a review on the importance of PK at the site of action that was published in Clinical and Translational Science, and working together on an Annual Meeting pre-conference proposal in 2020, which while derailed by COVID-19, ultimately resulted in helping to frame a themed issue in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics on Infectious Disease. Most importantly, all this work resulted in lasting relationships that have endured.

When you are not working, how do you spend your free time?
When I am not working, you can typically find me playing with my kids, attending their activities, or coaching their sports teams (my son is 10 and my daughter is 7). When I do find some alone time, I really enjoy woodworking, cooking, and gardening/landscaping.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My professional career has had many twists and turns, and I am very grateful for that. I am a chemical engineer by training and did not consider a career in clinical pharmacology until I was nearing the completion of my PhD (where I had focused my research on biofuels). As various doors have opened and closed for me over time, I have learned to embrace the opportunities that unplanned paths may provide. The above story about working on RECARBRIO's drug development is a perfect example–I never would have had that opportunity if not for circumstances that caused other projects to stop shortly beforehand, and a willingness to say yes to a new opportunity.

Matt has been a member of ASCPT since 2013. 

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