Words of wisdom from Katy Moore, PharmD ’93, and her 2023 Commencement keynote address
Story by Kelly Collins | Photo credit Jenna Miller | Published May 16, 2023
Last Saturday, Katy Moore, PharmD ’93, stood before a jam-packed Memorial Hall to give a keynote address as part of the Commencement Ceremony for the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Class of 2023. With more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, and herself a UNC alumna, Katy inspired students with a message about choices, courage, character, and capabilities.
“I am excited and humbled to be here to share this important moment in your journey as you step into your future,” Katy began. “So why am I excited and humbled? Because I have had a glimpse of what may be ahead for you. I was sitting exactly where you are, which seems not so long ago.
“Also exciting for me is that I used ChatGPT to write this address. No, no I didn’t. I thought about it! But it won’t be long until this may be true, and it will be up to us to harness this technology for good.
“So, I never expected to be here today. That is the lesson. How did I get here? Choices.”
Over the course of her speech, Katy shared four quotes that guided and inspired her reflections:
With these inspiring words as a foundation, Katy noted the importance of persistence, resilience, and hard work. “Tenacity, this is how our capabilities grow and discovery happens. No results—keep working. Bad results—keep working. Great results—keep working. Courage, curiosity, character, and capabilities applied to your purpose, this is how you will have a role in improving human health and healthcare.
Katy went on to share some personal examples from her own career of how these qualities shaped her life as a person, a pharmacist, and a leader. She noted, “Career paths are not always efficient. Mine wasn’t, and I am glad it wasn’t.”
One anecdote shared was from Katy’s time in the early ‘90s at UNC and Glaxo (now GSK) serving as a postdoctoral fellow: “It was the height of the HIV epidemic. In fact, in 1994 AIDS was the leading cause of death for all Americans aged 25-44. There were only three drugs available to treat patients, two of which have been removed from the market due to their toxicities.
“I had the opportunity to lead a Phase 1 drug-drug interaction study in 14 HIV-infected men with a new drug to treat HIV still in research and development. This drug was lamivudine…I was excited and intimidated at the same time to conduct this real-life clinical research in HIV patients. It took courage.”
Katy went on to share her involvement in every aspect of the study, and how it sparked a passion for the code, models, technology, data analysis, and interpretation. The study changed her life, as well as the lives of many others. “This was the experience that changed my career and inspired my passion for drug development and most importantly the immediate and tangible application of the results to make a difference for patients, which is why you are here to make a difference.” The results from that single Phase 1 study are still in product labeling and guiding healthcare providers in making decisions for their patients more than three decades later.
Katy closed by reiterating the power of choices with the patient at the center of everything.
“This is why you choose this path, to find answers for patients, for all of us. The journey to find answers to some of these questions and develop drugs or healthcare strategies that change the course of people’s lives, is the mission, the purpose, that drives me. And purpose is essential to making the world a better place.
“Today, I have had a treasured 30-year career in drug development and business development…Choices, when faced with opportunities or challenges, will take you places you have never expected. I have shared examples of just a few opportunities, many of which others did not want to take, and where I raised my hand and said, I’ll do it! Knowing this is how you learn and how you grow.”
Katy Moore, PharmD, RPh, currently serves as president of Clinical Pharmacology, Modeling, and Simulation (CPMS) for Allucent, a global biopharmaceutical services leader. With more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Moore has extensive strategic leadership in clinical pharmacology and model-informed drug development including serving in leadership roles at ViiV Healthcare and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). She completed her undergraduate training in biological sciences, zoology, and pharmacy at Colorado State University. She earned a PharmD from the UNC School of Pharmacy and went on to be Glaxo Post-doctoral Fellow in pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics.