Liz Rogers, Vice President and Head of Global Site & Study Operations for Pfizer, visits Innovation in Biology class
Students in BIO-220, Innovation in Biology, have been learning about the drug development process and what it takes get a drug or vaccine to market – from scientific innovation in the lab, to obtaining patents, to clinical trials, and ultimately launching a product to market. Liz Rogers spoke with the class this week. She heads all clinical trials worldwide by Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company who, along with BioNTech, developed one of the first COVID-19 vaccines.
Rogers, who majored in biochemistry in college, discussed her 30-year career with the class. She shared that the skills she uses every day in her work include “collaboration, communication, problem-solving, adaptability, emotional intelligence, financial acumen, and the ability to embrace change/innovation.”
“We have discussed the collaborative nature of the pharmaceutical development process and the vast number of people with different skillsets that are needed, I think it was impactful for the students to hear this first-hand from Liz,” shared Dr. Rebecca Roberts, professor of Biology who teaches the course.
Usually the clinical trial phase of drug/vaccine development takes several years, but everything coalesced in 2020 when the SARS-CoV2 pandemic hit. Rogers shared how her skills in vaccines and clinical trials helped as the company was moving fast toward a vaccine. She commented that the fast, collaborative pace at which the process moved in 2020 was nothing she had ever experienced before. The timeline was able to be compressed, without any loss of any steps or safety, because most of the world was focused on getting this done. Wait times for responses from ethics boards, regulatory agencies, data analysis, etc. was significantly reduced because of the “all hands on deck” mentality. She shared that, even when in lockdown in her house and on her computer up to 20-hours a day that spring and summer, the push to “save the world” kept everyone focused. And the effort worked – on December 11th 2020 the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was the first authorized by the FDA in the U.S.