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#RisingStars - Justin Brathwaite

Please introduce yourself and what you do

My name is Justin Brathwaite, and I am a Study Startup Specialist for Labcorp Drug Development. I am currently assigned to five phase II Clinical Trials in three therapeutic areas: Oncology, Pulmonology, Cardiology. I have a BA in Chemistry from Columbia University, and I am currently pursuing an MBA at Boston University.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I am new to this industry and have been in startup operations for 10 months. Within that time, I was promoted to Startup Specialist from a Startup Associate. Startup Operations is fast-paced. A Startup Specialist ensures that research sites participating in various clinical trials reach an activated state so that they can enroll patients. I like that this role requires numerous skills and that each day is different. For example, one must be highly organized and adaptable, possess scientific literacy, along with some basic project management and negotiation skills. Each research site is under a particular clinical trial, and is its own individual project, which means that timelines must be projected accurately based on the site’s own internal procedures and historical data. Additionally, Startup Specialists must mediate informed consent negotiations among the research site, Labcorp, and the sponsor company. Furthermore, Specialists ideally possess a strong scientific knowledge base to understand the clinical trial’s research protocol in case sites have any protocol-related questions.

What was your route into industry from education?

After Graduation, I worked as a research associate under the mentorship of Dr. Guilio Pasinetti at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City for a few years. The lab’s goal was to understand the mechanisms through which grape derived polyphenols improve memory function. While there, I contributed to numerous exciting projects and presented my research at the National Institute of Health’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Because I was interested in translational research, particularly in clinical trials, I began exploring various career paths within pharma and applied to numerous clinical research roles after finishing a training program called Clinical Research Fastrack.

Did you always aspire to work in pharma?

I was interested in science, pharma, and the healthcare field from a young age. Working in a laboratory at an academic medical center after graduation was exciting, but I always wanted to work in a faster-paced environment and with a much larger team.

Has your experience in pharma been what you expected or has it been different?

It was much better than I had expected because I’m learning something new each day. I am always reading company standard operating procedures, SOPs, and attending workshops.

What are your future aspirations with your career in pharma?

I see numerous growth opportunities within clinical development and startup operations. In the future, I hope to manage independently smaller clinical trials , and then progress towards larger studies. Later in my career, I aspire to pursue a PhD in clinical research and perhaps reach the director/VP level.

What tips would you give a new starter interested in getting into pharma?

Research various roles within the industry and then conduct informational interviews with individuals who are in those current positions. Informational interviews are helpful because they can give you insight into a specific role and clarify any misconceptions.


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