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Alumni Spotlight: Soumya Niranjan

Name: Soumya J Niranjan, B Pharm., MS, PhD,
Degree: Master of Science in Clinical Investigation Sciences
Graduation Date: 2008

Soumya Niranjan was a clinical research associate when she decided to get her master’s in Clinical Investigation Sciences. She was trained as a pharmacist and responsible for monitoring Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines in the implementation of clinical trials in academic medical centers. In her own words, she was “knee-deep in the execution of clinical trials but had no formal training.”

Dr. Niranjan found that the MSc program perfectly suited her needs. During her time SPHIS, she was a student research coordinator at Kosair Charities Pediatric Clinical Research Unit. Additionally, she was graduate research assistant and assisted with Dr. Muriel Harris’ research project, Reducing Rates of TB among Minority Populations in Kentucky, where she earned significant experience in  data gathering, analysis, and eventual publication of study results.

After receiving her master’s, Dr. Niranjan began working at the Tulane Cancer Center as a research coordinator. She was responsible for conducting oncology clinical trials and working with the principal investigator. Her next position was clinical trials manager and quality assurance manager for oncology trials at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was at UAB for several years where she managed data specialists and audited pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials in preparation for FDA audits.

Dr. Niranjan explained that the MSc in Clinical Investigation Sciences was key to securing her first job. She explained, “It facilitated my understanding of designing and conducting clinical research studies. Additionally, this degree has been crucial in my current role as an academician while designing and implementing my research studies.”

In 2018, she received a doctoral degree in medical sociology from the from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Niranjan currently teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs for the Department of Health Services Administration at UAB. Fortunately, COVID-19 has not affected her job as her courses were online prior to the pandemic. While her research work stalled during the quarantine months, she said it has now picked back up.

Her research interests include health inequalities in cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, and her work explores barriers to lung cancer screening in different high-risk populations (e.g. Veteran and medically underserved communities in the Deep South).

Dr. Niranjan concluded by offering the follow advice to public health students. She encourages students to learn and get as much hands-on experience as possible, start seeking jobs early, and have a professional review their resumes. She said, “try not to turn down any opportunity–you never know what strikes a chord with you.”

Connect with Dr. Niranjan via email or via social media: @sniranjanPhD

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