Jessica Passarelli Follows Passion by Supporting Oncologists Treating Breast Cancer
Canada Medical Affairs – Oncology
Location: Ontario, Canada
Joined Gilead: May 2021
As a Medical Scientist focused on oncology, Jessica Passarelli is part of a team that supports the development of Gilead’s oncology pipeline in Canada by providing education to medical oncologists treating breast cancer, building strategic partnerships and identifying external collaboration opportunities. Read why her passion for oncology and cancer care inspired her to join Gilead.
Q: What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Gilead?
I've always been interested in healthcare – thanks originally to TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy – and I knew at a young age I wanted to make a difference in this field. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and then entered the pharmaceutical industry, initially working in Regulatory Affairs. I had the opportunity to work across several sectors including, agriculture, animal health, consumer health and pharmaceuticals. During that time, both my parents were diagnosed with cancer and have since passed away. Oncology and cancer care became a passion of mine and I was looking for a role where I could work directly with key opinion leaders and bring clinical trial opportunities to Canada, ultimately to help improve patient outcomes and address unmet needs in oncology.
I heard great things about Gilead, including the ambitious goals to deliver 10 new transformative medicines over 10 years and build a world-class oncology pipeline. I knew this was a unique opportunity and had to be part of it. I love my work – healthcare professionals in Canada are happy to see more treatment options for patients and are eager to learn more about Gilead’s pipeline and clinical trial opportunities.
Q: What is your day-to-day like as a Medical Scientist?
Part of the fun is that no two days are the same. My primary role is external facing, providing education and support to healthcare professionals, with a heavy focus on medical oncologists. Daily activities vary and can include in-hospital trainings, staying up to date on current data in breast cancer, pipeline discussions, reviewing research proposals, attending conferences, presenting data and collecting insights from healthcare professionals through one-on-one interaction or group meetings. In addition, we work with other Gilead teams on projects and programs, helping with things like content development, speaker recommendations and landscape awareness.
The Oncology field team stays connected and works collaboratively across Canada. The Canadian Medical Affairs team has routine touchpoints to share best practices and lessons learned across therapeutic areas. We’re also in close contact with global colleagues to ensure Canadian representation in globally led programs and to discuss opportunities for Gilead to collaborate with Canadian physicians.
Q: How would you describe the company’s culture?
I’ve met some of the most incredible and passionate people here. The culture is focused on accountability, collaboration and operating with excellence. Every day, my colleagues embody and exemplify our five Leadership Commitments: I Am Bold, I Care, I Listen, I Own, and I Trust.
I’m part of an amazing field team – we leverage each other’s strengths and take the time to help when others are in need. I’m often recognized for my contributions and the impact they had on the outcome. Our relationships are further strengthened by our shared purpose. It’s a rewarding job because we have the opportunity to help improve health outcomes – what we do here matters.
Q: Tell us about a time you really felt the impact of your work.
Working in oncology, specifically breast cancer, offers daily reminders of the importance and impact of our work and reinforces my “why.” A few months into my role, I met a physician trying to secure access to breast cancer treatment for her patient. I was able to navigate a complex situation and enabled access to the treatment in a compliant way.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the entire Gilead Oncology team in Canada. This was just one example of how we’re working together to truly help make a difference in people’s lives.
Q: How would you describe the opportunities for career growth at Gilead?
Gilead is a strong proponent of continued education and personal development. The company provides infrastructure for employees to prioritize growth. There are resources to help grow within your role as well as room for movement within and across teams.
Gilead has provided me with an avenue to explore my passion and make a difference in the field of oncology. I’ve made big strides toward accomplishing several goals and milestones in my life as a result. For example, I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Science to strengthen my understanding of the healthcare system and how to best support providers.
If you're passionate and a self-starter, this is the place for you. Each day brings its own opportunities and challenges, and the chance to contribute to achieving things once considered impossible.
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