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Drug Discovery and Development Meet Alum Renee Jean-Toussaint

Renee Jean-Toussaint, Drexel Drug Discovery & Development Program Alum


Hometown: Sayreville, NJ
Undergraduate: Rutgers University-New Brunswick, BS in Chemistry
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Drug Discovery and Development; Drexel University College of Medicine, PhD candidate Pharmacology & Physiology


Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?

Following graduation from Rutgers, I worked as a chemical analyst at Accutest Labs in New Jersey.

Why did you choose to apply for and attend the Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) program?

I applied to Drexel's Drug Discovery and Development program because I wanted to advance my knowledge of the drug discovery and development process for a career in regulatory affairs. Drexel's Drug Discovery and Development program provides training to students looking to pursue jobs in industry as well as those thinking of continuing to a PhD.

What was your experience like in the program?

I truly enjoyed the Drug Discovery and Development program. The curriculum is designed to cover all aspects involved in modern discovery, development, and commercialization of drugs. The Drug Discovery and Development core courses bring lectures from both faculty and industry with a broad range of expertise in various aspects of drug discovery and development. This also allowed us to become familiar with the most current and up-to-date information. The curriculum also promotes teamwork. The course projects require participating in teams to develop strategies to solve real problems--similar to what we would experience in the real world.

What was your relationship with the faculty like?

The faculty work hard to make sure you are involved and that the content is coming across effectively. It is clear that they genuinely want to see the students succeed.

What was your relationship like with your classmates?

We all came from different backgrounds including toxicology, biochemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. With a background in inorganic chemistry, I was new to biochemistry and physiology, but my classmates helped me feel welcome and included. Through team projects as well as coursework, peer support is strongly encouraged. I've made lasting friendships and have expanded my scientific network.

Can you tell me about any research you did while in the program?

Under the guidance of Dr. Alessandro Graziano, I worked on a master's thesis project where we used viruses as tracers to investigate the role of thalamic parathyroid hormone 2 receptor-expressing cells in the induction and maintenance of chronic pain. The findings from this study will result in a first author manuscript that is currently in preparation.

What skills do you feel like you developed during this program?

Through my core courses, I gained a strong understanding in pharmacology, physiology and the entire process of drug discovery and development. The knowledge I've acquired in both the classroom and the laboratory as well as the scientific network I have established, are two of the many reasons that led me to pursue a PhD in Pharmacology and Physiology. Currently I am a PhD candidate working in the lab of Dr. Seena Ajit at Drexel. I've been applying my knowledge from the DDD program in planning and designing experiments that I hope will eventually lead to a safe and effective therapeutic for chronic pain.

Does the Drug Discovery and Development program help prepare students for work?

Absolutely. My classmates and I can agree that the Drug Discovery and Development program expanded our job opportunities and provided extensive support for job placement after graduation. Career support is offered to all current students as well as alumni from both national and international companies. The program also encourages transition to PhD for those who are interested.

What advice would you give to future and current students of the Drug Discovery and Development program?

Take advantage of the many opportunities to connect with speakers and lecturers in the program. Not only will this expand your scientific network, but most lecturers are willing to share their personal experiences and career opportunities.