A Fellow to the Uncharted Path: How a Unique Fellowship Experience Led to the Career Move of a Lifetime

Published on 15 November 2022

Harrison Yoon, Pharm.D. ’20, is utilizing the skills he obtained from his fellowship with UHSP's Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education to pursue a new career venture with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Shortly after graduating with his Pharm.D. from St. Louis College of Pharmacy at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy, Harrison Yoon, Pharm.D. ’20, accepted a position as an Outcomes Research Fellow with UHSP's Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education. This fall, he is taking on a new role with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and he credits his two-year fellowship for helping to shape the trajectory of his career. 

Through collaborations with institutions like Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis University, BJC HealthCare and Express Scripts Inc., the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education at UHSP was established in 2016 with a mission to build project-based datasets to support communitywide information exchange and research capacity. 

As a pharmacy student with a keen interest in research and data science, Yoon was drawn to the center and its mission, and he quickly connected with members of its research team to find out how he could get involved.

"While I worked on my Pharm.D., I was able to take part in multiple outcomes-based research projects related to health-systems pharmacy and independent pharmacists' interventions as a graduate research assistant with the center," Yoon said. "Those experiences eventually led me to obtain my fellowship." 

In his role as an Outcomes Research Fellow, Yoon was tasked with designing and conducting retrospective and prospective cohort research studies using electronic health records, claims data and publicly available data. He also held a dual appointment as a clinical instructor at St. Louis College Pharmacy. 

"My fellowship was a very unique experience because I was able to work on research projects from start to finish," Yoon noted. "With my research team, I was able to lead, design, analyze and disseminate our findings to a wide audience. The fellowship also allowed me to acquire knowledge of advanced statistical methods across multiple programming languages." 

Early on in his fellowship, Yoon had the opportunity to serve as a principal investigator on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded research project with the Missouri Pharmacy Association, which examined how pharmacy technicians who are trained as community health workers (CHW) can positively impact social determinants of health. Yoon was responsible for collecting and analyzing data from three independent pharmacies in rural Missouri and Illinois to showcase the effectiveness of CHWs in pharmacy settings. 

"The collaborative study with MPA was one of the first research projects that I did as a fellow, and it marked my first time being a principal investigator on a project," Yoon said. "The Center for Health Outcomes [Research and Education] fellowship is special because it provides the technical components necessary to become a researcher, while also helping fellows cultivate leadership and ownership of their research. Not all fellows have that opportunity." 

Yoon recently expanded his research in the CHW space after acquiring a $37,500 grant from the PhRMA Foundation. Researchers at the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education are utilizing the funds to train pharmacy students on the principles of CHWs to conduct virtual and in-person engagements with individuals in St. Louis City who are suffering from Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS). 

"PICS describes the collection of cognitive, physical and mental impairments experienced by individuals after an admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)," Yoon explained. "We examined data which indicates there are many patients from North St. Louis City with PICS who require extended care well after their ICU visits but may not be receiving it. We want to train CHWs who can conduct regular engagements with these patients to identify and inform them about low-cost or free-of-charge health resources near their home, with the overall goal of reducing the health disparities in these geographic areas." 

Yoon says the research experience he gained during his fellowship has been invaluable and has prepared him for his recent transition to his role as manager of real-world market access analytics at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. 

"In my new role, I will have the ability to create a large-scale impact while working with accomplished researchers and clinicians across multiple disciplines," Yoon said. "My team will leverage various data sources to develop analytical tools that provide insight into health disparities that exist in the U.S. I am excited about this new opportunity, and grateful for the training I received as a fellow that has been instrumental in getting me here." 

This story was first published in the fall 2022 issue of Script Magazine. To view past issues of Script, visit the Script Magazine archive. 

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