Jong Woo Kim PharmD ’19 headshot

Student Spotlight: Jong Woo Kim, PharmD '19

March 10, 2017

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    At Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), students across health sciences disciplines are given the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to succeed in their future careers.

    For Jong Woo Kim, PharmD '19, that means actively seeking out opportunities for professional and educational growth during his time in the Doctor of Pharmacy program on our Boston campus.

    “My favorite part about MCPHS is the curriculum of the pharmacy program," said Kim. "I think it is all about challenging you. But at the same time, I feel a sense of achievement. I really like pharmacology, and I am learning so many things about the human body, diseases, and how pharmacy relates to curing them.”

    Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim moved with his family to attend high school in Hacienda Heights, California. Once his family decided to remain in California, Kim applied for admission to MCPHS.

    Although he would be leaving his parents and twin brother behind on the West Coast, Kim sought to experience a new region of the country, and was eager to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to students on our Boston campus, which is located in the prestigious Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA).

    Living for the first time in an urban environment with a four-season climate, Kim adapted quickly to day-to-day student life in Boston. But despite his satisfaction with classroom work, Kim soon realized that he needed other experiences outside the classroom to help empower him make a career decision.

    During the winter of 2015, Kim secured a month-long internship at Dong-A Socio, a pharmaceutical company located outside of Seoul. During this internship, Kim observed various lab settings, learned about drug compounding, and studied the manufacture of a variety of products, including mouthwash, energy drinks, and vitamin water.

    Most importantly, the internship gave him the opportunity to connect with pharmaceutal researchers and learn about their careers and the different occupations available within the pharmacy field. In the end, Kim was able to identify pharmaceutical research as his passion.

    “This internship in Seoul was all about getting experience, viewing pharmacy research through the eyes of a global organization, and seeing first-hand that there are more ways I can use my pharmacy skills besides retail," said Kim.

    When he returned to Boston in the Fall of 2015 to continue his studies at MCPHS, Kim secured a volunteer trainee position at Channing Lab. Here, Kim worked with Tomas Maira-Litran, Pharm D., PhD, a microbiologist with Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Division of Infectious Diseases, which is under the Department of Medicine and is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School (HMS).

    No longer just an observer, through this opportunity Kim gained critical hands-on lab experience, working on multiple concurrent experiments. As part of the experience, he cared for and prepared mice for experimentation with different types of bacteria, keeping meticulous bench notes featuring steps, protocols, and outcomes.

    “I would inject bacteria or an antibacterial solution into the mice, take their blood samples, and observe bacteria growth as a result," explains Kim. "I grew sample bacteria on a plate for a day and counted the number of colonies grown, calculated and recorded the data, both with and without vaccines.”

    Kim also applied his skills to enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also known as ELISA, a test that detects and measures antibodies in the blood.

    In order to extend this valuable lab experience, Kim applied for the MCPHS Pharmaceutical Career Exploration Stipend. This stipend is administered by the Center for Professional Career Development, which is focused on the professional and academic development of students across all three MCPHS campuses.

    The stipend, which is funded entirely by generous MCPHS donors, provides financial support for select MCPHS students who secure and undertake unpaid, career-related summer internship experiences. The stipend represents a vital opportunity for MCPHS students to take on extremely meaningful internship experiences during their time at MCPHS, and represents one of the many ways the University supports the long-term success of our students.

    After his application was accepted, Kim received a stipend to continue working with Dr. Maira-Litran through the summer of 2016. The MCPHS Pharmaceutical Career Exploration Stipend gave Kim an extremely valuable gift: time. Because he was empowered to continue the work experience, he could invest the time needed to bring his experiments to fruition, resulting in more observations and follow-up experiments.

    Kim advises current students to be pro-active about gaining hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

    “Prepare for a summer internship as early as possible, because there will be much less opportunity later on," said Kim. "Start looking in February at the latest and attend school events because they could generate many leads.”

    What’s next for Kim? Not surprisingly, he will continue to pursue pharmacy internships.

    "I like pharmacy, but I also want to continue to explore options in industry settings," said Kim. "I want to be open to every possibility."

    MCPHS has prepared more graduates for careers in the pharmacy field than any other institution of higher education. Our full-time, six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program on our Boston campus is direct-entry and is designed to prepare students for successful future careers.