The University of Tennessee Research Foundation recently partnered with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Pharmacy to establish a four-week rotation for pharmacy students to learn about pharmaceutical commercialization. This month, UTRF welcomed the program’s first two participants: third-year pharmacy students Imran Khan and Taylor Wisdom.

During the rotation, students will learn about intellectual property (IP) protection of pharmaceuticals, how technologies are developed for regulatory approval and how technologies are licensed to external development partners. As a licensed Pharmacist that still practices on weekends and an IP attorney that previously worked in pharmaceutical litigation, UTRF Staff Attorney James Parrett was uniquely qualified to launch this new collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and UTRF.

I didn’t know this (technology transfer) was an area you could go into,” said Wisdom. “It’s very eye-opening.”

Imran Khan, P3 student in the UTRF pharmaceutical commercialization rotation.

Before coming to UTHSC, Khan received an undergraduate degree in biology with a focus in human physiology and a minor in chemistry from Middle Tennessee State University. Wisdom graduated from Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and from the University of Memphis with a master’s degree in public health.

We’re always learning about how drugs work and when to prescribe them, but we never learn about the beginning stages of bringing these drugs to market,” said Khan. “When people think about pharmacies, they think about drugstores, hospitals or something like that, but this is a totally different atmosphere. It’s a behind-the-scenes view of how things work.”

Khan and Wisdom expressed gratitude for James Parrett, UTRF Technology Manager, and the rest of the UTRF staff for their kindness and support.

Taylor Wisdom, P3 student in the UTRF pharmaceutical commercialization rotation.

Everyone here is super friendly,” said Wisdom. “Dr. Parrett is a wonderful human being. He’s great at what he does. He’s really knowledgeable and a great teacher.”

Because of the welcoming environment at UTRF and Parrett’s expert ability to clearly communicate new concepts to them, Wisdom and Khan are thankful their first student rotation was with UTRF. They believe other students will find similar value in this program.

We hope this gives any pharmacy student that goes through this rotation a broader experience in the industry side of pharmacy, potentially opening up new career avenues that they may not be considering currently,” said Parrett. “Imran and Taylor have been fantastic additions to our UTRF team here. We look forward to working with many more pharmacy students in the future.”

In the future, Wisdom is interested in pursuing pharmacy work in infectious disease, while Khan is drawn to cardiology and ambulatory care. Both believe their UTRF experience will be helpful in whatever area of pharmacology they ultimately go into.

It’s good for a pharmacist to be well versed in a lot of different areas – like how drugs get developed and brought to market,” said Wisdom.

Khan agreed that tech transfer and commercialization is “very valuable” for pharmacists to be aware of, adding, “I’m very interested in this, so it potentially could be a future career path.”