Nieves Velez de Mendizabal Uses Expertise in Pharmacometrics to Help Develop Potential HIV Treatments

Gilead employee Nieves Velez de Mendizabal, Senior Director, Pharmacometrics, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics says, “My work gives me purpose. Being part of the development of potentially transformative medicines that can help people facing serious diseases is a privilege and an honor.”

Nieves Velez de Mendizabal

Senior Director, Pharmacometrics
Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Joined Gilead: July 2022

Nieves Velez de Mendizabal has followed her passion for scientific modeling and simulation to help develop innovative HIV treatments. Learn more about what her work entails and how her team contributes to Gilead’s mission.

Q: What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Gilead?

Modeling and simulation (pharmacometrics) are my passion. I always enjoyed the idea of predicting “the future.” The very first model that I developed when I was in college was for HIV and the immune system. This sparked my passion for modeling and started my career developing mathematical models for biological systems. Now, I’m working for the company that, in my opinion, has done more than any other to advance the science of treating HIV.

I joined Gilead in July 2022 with more than 15 years of experience between academia, pharmacometrics consulting and the pharmaceutical industry. At the beginning of my career, as I was completing my PhD in Computer Science, I believed that academia was my path. However, the opportunities that arose in pharmacometrics opened exciting new horizons and opportunities to expand my impact by contributing to the development of innovative medicines.

Q: Can you explain the role of pharmacometrics in the drug development process?

My role as pharmacometrician is basically the development and validation of mathematical and statistical models to help predict how a medicine will behave and affect the body. Pharmacometrics helps develop more efficient studies, saving time and resources and, ideally, helping get new medicines to people who need them faster. Pharmacometrics is key for internal decision-making, optimization of clinical trial designs and the selection of the most optimal dosage regimen.

Pharmacometrics is an exciting field that’s growing very fast. There’s a very critical need across the industry for new modelers from academia. It’s our responsibility to keep training them in the field.

Q: What makes you feel valued as an employee?

I feel especially valued when I’m heard. My engineer brain continuously looks for efficiency and new ways to be bolder and innovative at work. New ideas are continuously popping out of my mind. Of course, not all the ideas are possible, adequate, or implementable, but when I’m heard and get constructive feedback, I feel empowered, engaged with my company and motivated to keep working on them.

Q: How would you describe the opportunities for career growth at Gilead?

Gilead is a growing company, which offers unique opportunities. The core capabilities of our Pharmacometrics team grow in stride with the career development of our scientists. We provide training opportunities to colleagues in the department as well as rotational roles. We also strongly encourage mentorships. We’re here to help each other advance in our careers.

Q: What do the company’s efforts to prioritize equity, inclusion and diversity mean to you?

Diversity of cultural and social backgrounds, life experiences, academic backgrounds and expertise is key for innovation. To stay agile, we need to use the most innovative approaches, which never arise from homogeneous thinking. At the same time, diversity without inclusion means nothing. Each of us must ensure an inclusive and safe work environment. Equity is key to ensure the innovation coming from diversity and inclusion reaches everyone who can benefit from it equally.

Q: Why is working at Gilead more than ‘just a job’?

I’m really privileged to do what I do — and to work for a company like Gilead. Playing a key role in drug development from pre-clinical studies to approval is very motivating and engaging. My work gives me purpose. Being part of the development of potentially transformative medicines that can help people facing serious diseases is a privilege and an honor.

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