Lori J. Fitz, PhD, Director, Pfizer Kendall Square Technology Centers and Scientific Outreach, is a passionate advocate for extending opportunity to a diverse pipeline of talent. We asked her to share why she’s led the charge to hire Project Onramp summer interns.
Tell us a little bit about what you do at Pfizer.
I am a research scientist by training, and throughout my career I’ve worked on many different projects to understand the underlying causes of diseases. Currently, I lead the technology centers at Pfizer Kendall Square (cutting-edge testing and imaging platforms that help scientists conduct experiments); and I’m responsible for scientific outreach, helping to share the value of Pfizer’s science with everyone from K-12 students to leading academic researchers.
In additional to your “day job,” you are an incredible champion for increasing opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. What inspired you to get involved with Project Onramp? What drives or motivates you to advocate for Project Onramp internally?
Nowadays, unless you know someone working in biopharma, it is a very difficult industry to get started in. It’s much more difficult than when I started over 30 years ago. Networking can be a way in, but accessible networking opportunities are a privilege not always available to students who are the first in their families to attend college, or who may be working at non-lab jobs while earning their degrees. By providing internship opportunities to students from Project Onramp, we can address this gap head-on – giving students a foot in the door and helping them build a network at the same time. We benefit from the program too, as summer students bring new energy, new perspectives and excitement that positively impact our science and our culture. It’s always been one of my favorite parts of the year.
Why do you think a diverse pipeline of talent will benefit Pfizer, and our industry as a whole?
Adding the voices and talent of scientists with different experiences, ideas and priorities only improves our ability to address unmet medical needs for patients. Drug discovery and development is a long and complex process, which requires large teams of people working on many different problems. The teams who have different perspectives will find better solutions in shorter times, and it’s important that these teams are as diverse as the communities and patients we serve.
To learn more about Project Onramp or to host a student intern, visit www.projectonrampma.com.