PhD Alumni Profiles - biotech/pharma/healthcare


Lori Krim Gavrin, PhD

R&D Esprit Associate; Manager R&D Strategy and Portfolio

Program at Penn: Organic Chemistry
Graduation Year: 2001

Describe your current position and firm/organization and the career path you took to get there

The Esprit R&D programme is all about developing future scientific leaders, with the knowledge, capabilities and behaviours to deliver our strategic R&D challenges. Lasting three years, this global development programme has been created to attract high-potential individuals and put them on a fast track to leadership.

Esprit Associate – Manager R&D Strategy and Portfolio, GlaxoSmithKline, 2013–Present

The Esprit R&D programme includes a diverse group of experienced professionals who combine scientific knowledge, strong business acumen and an ability to drive strategy from concept to embedded change. The group maintains a keen awareness of internal and external R&D dynamics in order to effectively shape and continuously challenge the strategic direction of R&D through creative thinking, effective problem solving and strong stakeholder management. My roles have included:

  1. Portfolio Analytics: Evaluation of Late Stage Assets: Prioritization of the very late stage studies (i.e., Ph 3b/4) with a goal of facilitating a sound cross-portfolio investment strategy which is critical for the delivery of our pipeline.
  2. Strategy & Programme Management: Innovation in Clinical Design (ICD) Project: Transforming the clinical development paradigm at GSK by driving more widespread utilization of novel trial designs to deliver meaningful patient-centered clinical results at a lower cost.  A member of the ICD strategy team; currently serving as Programme Manager for implementation of the program.

Prior to GSK, I served in Principal Scientist and Research Scientist roles at Wyeth/Pfizer:

    Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer, 2009–2013

    • Design Lead, Rare Disease Discovery Medicinal Chemistry
    • Team leader in collaboration with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
    • Lab Head, Inflammation and Immunology Discovery Medicinal Chemistry

    Principal Research Scientist, Wyeth Research, 2001–2009

    • Senior/Principal/Lead Research Scientist, Multiple TAs, Medicinal Chemistry
    • Initial member of start-up exploratory group

    Skills/capabilities/knowledge that have been developed on current assignment

    • Strategic approach to problem solving
    • Transforming strategic programme output into a plan with implementable workstreams
    • Cross-functional portfolio and pipeline decision-making
    • Developed understanding of GSK R&D organizational structure through networking, discussions, interviews and many interactions with teams, scientists and leaders
    • Programme Management Tools and Skills
    What skills, strengths, or knowledge did your graduate training provide you that helped you on your career path?
    • Scientific problem solving
    • Impactful drug design and medicinal chemistry knowledge
    • Collaboration and working with others; teamwork
    • Communication and clearly articulating your work – making a compelling argument (ie defending your thesis)
    If other graduate students and postdocs wanted to get a position similar to yours, what 3 specific pieces of advice would you offer them that they can be doing now while still at Penn?
    • Don't be afraid of new challenges and pushing yourself beyond your "comfort zone"
    • The skills I learned from my chemistry background can be applied to different functional areas and, in fact, help me to provide diverse and valuable viewpoints
    • Communication, transparency and knowledge-sharing are key to your success
    How can graduate students/postdocs at Penn find out more about your career field?
    • Check out the Esprit website:
    • GSK and other pharmaceutical companies are exploring new programs to develop scientists into leaders.  Explore all options.  Consider enrolling in one of these programs or moving outside your typical role for a secondment or rotation.  New skill sets will develop and distinguish you!
    What do you most enjoy about your current position?
    • Being a scientific leader who can broaden horizons, invigorate scientists, empower decision making and create scientific influencers.
    • Positively impacting the strategic decisions that shape the future of GSK and our industry.
    • Aiding in changing the image of our industry and ultimately helping more patients around the world.

    What are you looking forward to doing at work over the next week or two?

    • Learning something new every day.
    • Meeting new people and collaborating with new groups.