Med­ical Af­fairs: The Crit­i­cal Link Be­tween Sci­ence, Physi­cians and Pa­tients

Those of us who work in Med­ical Af­fairs have both the priv­i­lege and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of de­liv­er­ing sci­en­tif­ic da­ta to the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty – bridg­ing the di­verse do­mains of re­search, de­vel­op­ment, reg­u­la­tion and pa­tient care.

Part of my cur­rent role lead­ing Med­ical Af­fairs at Mit­subishi Tan­abe Phar­ma Amer­i­ca, Inc. (MT­PA) is fur­ther­ing our un­der­stand­ing of Parkin­son’s dis­ease (PD) and rec­og­niz­ing the un­met needs and chal­lenges faced by pa­tients. As we just ob­served Parkin­son’s Dis­ease Aware­ness Month in April, I’m re­mind­ed of how crit­i­cal it is for Med­ical Af­fairs to be, first and fore­most, pa­tient-cen­tric.

Many peo­ple may not have a strong un­der­stand­ing of what Med­ical Af­fairs is, what it aims to do, and what mo­ti­vates the peo­ple ded­i­cat­ed to it. My own jour­ney in med­i­cine can hope­ful­ly shed some light on the com­mit­ment and pas­sion nec­es­sary to best ad­vo­cate for pa­tients with­in this role.

Grow­ing up in Colom­bia, I al­ways knew I want­ed a ca­reer where I could help peo­ple. I was drawn to the so­cial as­pect of med­i­cine and dri­ven by a de­sire to con­nect with oth­ers and pro­vide re­lief and sup­port to the sick.

Dur­ing my res­i­den­cy in in­ter­nal med­i­cine, work­ing in hos­pi­tals across South Amer­i­ca, I de­vel­oped a deep in­ter­est in neu­rol­o­gy. I was par­tic­u­lar­ly cap­ti­vat­ed by its method­olog­i­cal ap­proach, which al­lowed me to lever­age my clin­i­cal skills, as well as the long-term re­la­tion­ships I could form with pa­tients and their fam­i­lies, giv­en the chron­ic na­ture of neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases.

I worked for sev­er­al years as a gen­er­al neu­rol­o­gist be­fore pur­su­ing a spe­cial­ty in neu­roim­munol­o­gy and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis (MS) at Bay­lor Col­lege of Med­i­cine in Hous­ton, Texas. Fol­low­ing that, my cu­rios­i­ty for re­search and da­ta led me to the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try, which of­fered a new per­spec­tive in be­ing able to ex­plore treat­ment op­tions com­bined with the op­por­tu­ni­ty to im­pact pa­tient care.

Join­ing the team at MT­PA ap­pealed to me be­cause of the com­pa­ny’s fo­cus on dis­eases like Parkin­son’s with high un­met need.  My own mul­ti­cul­tur­al back­ground al­so fu­eled my in­ter­est in work­ing for a Japan­ese phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal leader with a 300-year her­itage of do­ing right by pa­tients. MT­PA’s work is guid­ed by the KAITE­KI prin­ci­ple, which means do­ing what is eth­i­cal, no mat­ter how long it may take. I was in­trigued by the chance to en­gage with a new cul­ture and per­spec­tive.

I now spend a sig­nif­i­cant amount of my time ex­plor­ing ways to ad­dress the chal­lenges of PD, in­clud­ing mo­tor fluc­tu­a­tions. My main re­spon­si­bil­i­ty is to en­sure that health­care pro­fes­sion­als are ed­u­cat­ed on our da­ta through ac­tiv­i­ties like med­ical sci­ence li­ai­son (MSL) en­gage­ments, pub­li­ca­tions and par­tic­i­pa­tion in key med­ical con­gress­es. Our com­mit­ment ex­tends to ed­u­cat­ing on the ther­a­peu­tic area and da­ta, to help en­sure a deep un­der­stand­ing that sup­ports pa­tient care.

An­oth­er im­por­tant part of my role in­volves col­lab­o­rat­ing with the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment team to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion­al sup­port to clin­i­cal tri­al sites and in­ves­ti­ga­tors, help­ing to en­hance com­pre­hen­sion of our stud­ies. We al­so sup­port the clin­i­cal phar­ma­col­o­gy team as they ex­plore new av­enues in re­search, such as bio­mark­er stud­ies to gauge the bi­o­log­i­cal ef­fects of ther­a­peu­tics.

In ad­di­tion to sup­port­ing re­search and dis­cov­ery to meet pa­tients’ ex­ist­ing ther­a­peu­tic needs, I am al­so pas­sion­ate about bridg­ing the ed­u­ca­tion gap to sup­port pa­tients, care­givers and health­care providers in un­der­stand­ing new da­ta and ad­vance­ments in the field. I strong­ly be­lieve ther­a­peu­tic op­tions are on­ly use­ful if those liv­ing with the dis­ease and those treat­ing the dis­ease are in­formed of them.

As we ex­plore the com­plex­i­ties of PD, I am op­ti­mistic. I al­so en­vi­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties for MT­PA to make a mean­ing­ful im­pact in sup­port­ing the Parkin­son’s dis­ease com­mu­ni­ty. To learn more, vis­it:­ma-amer­i­

As a physi­cian and as a Med­ical Af­fairs leader, I take to heart the grav­i­ty of my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in serv­ing as a link be­tween sci­ence, physi­cians and, most im­por­tant­ly, the pa­tients they are help­ing. This has been and will con­tin­ue to be my life’s work.

CP-CLP-US-0083 4/24


Gustavo A. Suarez Zambrano

M.D., VP, Medical Affairs, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America, Inc.