Roxana Trimbitas: Increasing the International Footprint of Hopkins Biotech
Late 2014, Roxana was second author on a paper published in the European Journal of Public Health. The project was completed in Morocco. Roxana, who recently began working as Medical Science Liaison for the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, has some things to say about her work experience, education, goals, and time in Morocco.
My Undergrad was at McGill University in Anatomy & Cell Biology. It gave me a solid background in science, but it sure was a lot of work.
I worked briefly at the National Microbiology laboratory in Winnipeg where I got to do lab research hand on for the first time. However, I moved to Morocco in 2006 and took a break from academia and research for a few years. In 2010 I started training Businesses here in Casablanca as an ESL teacher in business topics (Marketing and Advertising, Human Resources, Public Relations, Sales & Purchasing). While not directly related to my studies, it exposed me to the Business world, which as we know, is completely unavoidable in today’s age. It also furthered my communication and time-management skills.
I started working at the Pasteur Institute in the Molecular/Virology Laboratory in February 2013, for about 1.5 years. I chose Moroccan intravenous drug users as my study group partly because it’s a taboo topic with non data available in the Maghreb region, and also because it’s the high-risk group with the highest sero-prevalence of HCV worldwide. Living in a developing country gives you a different perspective on research, not only in terms of resources but also in terms of sanitary conditions and infrastructure. I had to opportunity to collaborate with various researchers on the EUNAM project, of which you have read the publication in the European Journal of Public Health. It was a special issue that came out with the theme of Migrants to the European Union, their health, and their impact on the local population in the EU. This work was more epidemiological in nature, however it made me realize the global nature and migratory flux of diseases, and how we are intertwined community.
Well-rounded, the professors are engaging and the courses are very practical in nature, aiming to give you the tools to become a good researcher and scientist. I was severely limited by the resources I had access to in Morocco, however, I tried to maximize all the concepts and knowledge I learned during the Masters. When I was shopping around to do my Masters, Hopkins was the only US university which allowed you to do a scientific Masters entirely on-line, and I found this great. Other schools (a.k.a Harvard) required some on-campus time, and since my situation didn’t allow me to leave Morocco for months at a time, I was severely limited in my choices. So it was Hopkins or nothing else, as I didn’t want to lower the bar and choose another school. So hats off to Hopkins, for allowing us to access top education remotely!
While teaching at the Pharmaceutical company Novo nordisk here in Casablanca, I realized my gravitation towards to Clinical Trials. I followed this up by taking several classes in this subject, and it formed my future career aspirations. I was a medical writer for PSS (Pharmaceutical Sourcing Solutions) for a few months, which was my first taste of real trial data, protocols, and safety narrative writing. I’m in the process of looking for a job in the pharmaceutical industry here in Morocco, with the position of medical liaison, clinical trial administrator, and eventually clinical research associated. The Moroccan Minister of Health banned all clinical trials a few years ago due to a lack of expertise and medical facility to have the trials here, but apparently it’s slowly changing and the Big Pharma companies are in the process of creating several scientific positions (in their Medical departments).
All this must be rather dry, so I’ll give a few words about Morocco. Economically speaking, it’s doing alright and hasn’t been hit so hard by the crisis in Europe and North America. You have many investors (including the big Pharma companies) turning to Morocco as their African hub, and the government is making sure to keep the political climate stable to draw more entrepreneurs. This is not a publicity campaign for Morocco, but this country is moving up!