Perveen Biln

Merck Canada
Senior Specialist, Medical Affairs
Burnaby, Canada
Vancouver, Canada
The Na/K ATPase pump, a signaling switch between life and death
Vanessa Auld

Where and what is your current position?

The main focus of my job is to provide health care professionals with accurate and clinically relevant information about Merck medicines so that they are equipped to make the right treatment decisions. Additionally, we develop and implement health care and/or research partnerships to generate data that will lead to improved patient outcomes.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

I always knew I would work within the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry.

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

Most organizations require a terminal degree to work as a medical advisor for a number of reasons. Primarily, individuals with a terminal degree possess a depth of knowledge in a given therapeutic area (i.e. neuroscience, cardiac development, cell signaling). In addition to the scientific knowledge, through completion of graduate studies, students learn how to communicate scientific concepts, project management, and are able to work independently.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I chose to pursue my PhD work at UBC due to its reputation for excellent research output, and for the institutional support that is provided. For example, UBC has world-class facilities for cell imaging and electron microscopy, faculty members are internationally recognized experts in their field, and many of the local biotechnology companies were spun out from UBC.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

This is a difficult question. While lab work always has its ups and downs, I loved everything about my experience at UBC. I had a great thesis committee that challenged me to be the best scientific person I could and completely supported my non-academic interests. My labmates were hilarious, supportive colleagues with whom I share a life-long friendship.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

My willingness to take a risk, to ask questions and desire to constantly learn have definitely contributed to my success.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

My advice is to network, network, and network more. Ask people for informational interviews, ask questions and think outside of the box.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

I did have breaks in my education, all planned. After my MSc, I chose to work for a few years before returning to do my PhD. While completing my PhD, I took two maternity leaves.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

As a mature student with two kids, I was limited to daycare hours for my lab work. This really taught me how to strategically plan both my day and my experiments to be focused on the most important tasks/questions. Honestly, I wouldn't do anything differently. I am the person I am, because of the path I took and the skills I've learned through walking that path.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

As a medical advisor, I work closely with healthcare professionals and research scientists to improve patient outcomes. I am constantly learning and helping to advance our understanding of inflammatory diseases.


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