Breaking Down Big Pharma

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As a young child, Abra Sitler (MBA’20) was diagnosed with a rare condition, which inspired  interest in pharmaceuticals and biology. This caused her to study both biology and English in college. Often frustrated with the complexities of that type of science, she set out on a global journey to make these topics digestible not only to patients like herself, but to those who have a casual interest in the biopharmacology world. She wanted to write a book to break down these complex topics and explain them from the lens of a patient, rather than a medical professional. 

“I wrote it from the perspective of a patient trying to navigate what was going on in some of the cutting-edge biotechnology, bio-pharmaceutical developments,” said Sitler. “Over the course of 15 years, I saw the cost of things like genomics testing, like 23 and Me, become really affordable.”

She explained that it can be overwhelming to navigate these industry developments for most patients, who are often left on their own to make sense of the science. “I hope to inspire people to have some hope about other genetic conditions and life-threatening illnesses,” said Sitler.

Sitler’s book, “Seeing the Biopharma Future,” was released this past February. Since its release, more people are taking an interest in these complex medical topics. Readers have also sent her messages expressing their gratitude for writing about this complicated topic from a relatable and approachable perspective. 

In addition to her pursuit of science, Sitler wanted to build her global perspective and business experience while she was serving in the Peace Corps after college. As a leader in global business education, pursuing an MBA at the McDonough School of Business came to the forefront during her journey.

“I realized I was looking for a toolkit that would help me manage projects, motivate people, understand how to work within a larger organization, and develop a better business acumen,” said Sitler.

Georgetown McDonough has a long-standing relationship with Peace Corps volunteers through its Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship Program for returned volunteers. Sitler was focused on finding a program that was service-oriented and internationally focused. Through her interactions with the Peace Corps in the Middle East, she learned about the programs at Georgetown McDonough.

“I really liked that they offered students the availability to work full-time,” said Sitler. “I’m a person who likes to apply what they’re learning to something tangible and the MBA allowed me to do that with the same access to faculty as full-time students.”

She felt equipped with an arsenal full of experience that continues to serve her every day as the business insights and analytics rotational development associate at Bristol-Myers Squibb. She credits the capstone project she did in Hong Kong during her time at Georgetown greatly for her current success. 

Sitler has also pledged to donate all proceeds from the book towards a vaccine for COVID-19 at Johns Hopkins. 

Her book is available for purchase on Amazon.