Feature Story Stephanie Brown (’81) turns a love of science into a successful career in marketing and sales BY ALOMA JARDINE When Stephanie Brown graduated from Mount Allison in 1981 with a chemistry and biology degree, there was a world of options open to her. She moved to Toronto and applied for a job at Estée Lauder, but the day before they got back to her, she took a job in a pharmaceutical lab. The cosmetic industry’s loss has been the pharmaceutical industry’s gain. After three years of working as a chemist, Brown moved to pharmaceutical sales. “I really got interested in the business side,” she says. “I think for a lot of us who have made the transition, it is really that intersection of science, business, and medicine that is interesting to us, and we care deeply about the patients we serve.” Brown is currently the global commercial head of marketing for medicines in a class of medicine called interferons at Biogen in Cambridge, MA. One of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, Biogen specializes in medicines that treat neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, hematologic conditions such as hemophilia, and autoimmune disorders. It is now focusing its efforts on developing therapies for serious illnesses that have few, if any, treatment options, usually because the number of affected patients worldwide is low. Brown works to commercialize, market, and sell the company’s multiple sclerosis products. “I hear many patient stories,” she says. “It is part of my responsibility to launch a new product to treat MS across the globe and I am starting to get patient stories and feedback from physicians and patients. Hearing how our medicines help improve the lives of patients is inspiring.” 20 / THE RECORD / Winter 2015 Brown is particularly proud of the work Biogen is doing to develop treatments for rare diseases. “It’s very rewarding when you are in the specialty side of the business,” she says. “One of the drugs in our pipeline is for a very rare disease for infants, spinal muscular atrophy. There are not many babies in the world affected, but it is absolutely devastating.” Brown, who also has her MBA from the University of Edinburgh, says her science background has been invaluable to her throughout her career. “There are quite a few people with chemistry backgrounds in the industry,” she says. “I can understand the design of clinical studies, how a drug treats a disease, and I can ask the right questions.” Brown started out at Mount Allison as an English major, but switched to Science in her second year. “I think you need to follow your interests and passions,” she says. Brown says the bio-pharmaceutical industry offers a wealth of opportunities for science graduates. “You can use your science in so many ways,” she says. “You can have a science career in drug research and development, you can start in sales and move into marketing, there are opportunities in training, market research, clinical field jobs — there are so many different aspects, so it is definitely a great place for people with Science degrees. There are a lot of interesting opportunities in this industry.” “I think you need to follow your interests and passions” –Stephanie Brown (’81)