Roberta Lusa, mentor in the 2018 MedTech-Pharma program in Queensland

A UQ pharmacy graduate with a Masters in Clinical Research Methods. Since then I have spread my career evenly in Pharmacy and in the Pharmaceutical Industry.  Both career pathways have enabled global travel with global positions which have enriched my career development. My pharmacy experiences are wide-ranging including setting up two cancer care units, chief pharmacist setting up a hospital pharmacy in Asia, outback locum and traditional pharmacist tasks.  Whereas my career in the pharmaceutical industry has taken me around the world, spending many years abroad (Italy, France, Switzerland, China) as a clinical researcher in many therapeutic areas in companies such as Roche, FarmItalia and Novartis. Notably I have a strong cross-cultural awareness and an extensive global network gained through over 23 years working in a variety of roles within the pharmaceutical industry. I can now communicate in 7 languages at various levels.

A significant role was as the global clinical development project coordinator working on the first protease inhibitor, Saquinavir® used in the treatment of HIV from drug discovery to global registration.

Currently I work at both Queensland Health and at the UQ School of Pharmacy. At QH my lead role is extending clinical trials to the rural and remote areas of Qld through an initiative called Teletrials as principal author of the Standard Operating Procedures. My primary role at UQ School of Pharmacy is program coordinator for the Masters in Pharmaceutical Industry Practice developing the business case and course content, which was approved recently in record time. I am also responsible for activating industry placements for the School’s students and delivering application of course material to the pharmaceutical industry.

I hope to ignite an interest within pharmacy graduates about a career in the pharmaceutical industry and to other graduates by becoming a mentor in the Brisbane program.

Why are you participating in the IMNIS program?

I have had a rewarding career and am at the tail end so to speak. I would now like to pay it forward and share with upcoming students, information and possibilities about careers in the MTP sector. When I was at Uni, this career pathway was “unknown” and even today few students know about this possibility. Those Pharmacy undergrads I speak to now who are in the MTP sector only found out about this career pathway many years down the track.  By lecturing at uni and involvement with IMNIS hopefully we can leapfrog a graduate into the MTP sector.

What is the most crucial aspect of this professional relationship for you?

Assisting the students in networking and sharing all I know about the industry.

When you meet with your mentee, do you work together on a set of goals or do you go where the conversation takes you?

Haven’t met yet but probably put some structure into the goals and lead them but not do the work for them.

What are the key skills PhD students need to successfully collaborate with and/or work in industry?

  • Communication skills! 
  • Eye contact
  • Networking
  • Taking the imitative
  • Question where in doubt
  • Drive

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you so far?

First involvement so we will see.