In this article, we shine the spotlight on Sally Abdelmoaty, a consultant at NDA, and learn how her curiosity and passion for sciences set her on a path of personal development and life-long learning.
When curiosity meets passion
Curiosity often propels innovation because a curious mind is a fertile bed for continuous development. For Sally Abdelmoaty, Consultant at NDA, her curiosity to understand how drugs work and why they work the way they do set her on a path of personal development and life-long learning.
From a young age, Sally was always fascinated by science and was interested to understand how drugs work. In her words, “I used to have headaches during my teenage years, and I loved the fact that I could take a pill to make the headache go away. I realized the power of medicines and became curious about how drugs work and act selectively. I also wondered how medicines target a specific part of the body and treat a specific condition.” This curiosity developed into a passion for science, inspiring her obtain a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.
However, the more Sally got to know about medicines and how they work, the more she wanted to know and specialize. She studied further and obtained an MSc in pharmacology and a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology. She followed her dreams to Sweden to obtain doctoral education from the Karolinska Institutet, reputable for awarding the Noble Prize in Physiology and Medicine. She continued learning as a postdoctoral researcher as she believed that there was still more to learn and there was the possibility to expand to other related areas.
Sally focused her doctoral and postdoctoral research on drug targets with a specialization in pain, autoimmune diseases, and inflammation as it was an area she could relate to.
“In my family, there are some cases of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis where patients suffer crucial pain and joint deformity. I think it’s so easy to get interested in something that you can relate to, and I felt I wanted to contribute with my knowledge to help those dear to me and many patients around the world suffering the debilitating nature of this disease, to have a happy life where they can move without pain and enjoy a healthier life.”
One quest begets another
While Sally was doing her postdoctoral research at Karolinska Institutet, her group had extensive interactions with the pharmaceutical industry. Sally recounted, “During that time, I started to think about the applications of the research that we do. So, if we are trying to understand drug targets and drug mechanisms, then it is also good to have a goal to develop new drugs. I reasoned that I could choose between two options: either stay in academia or take a step out into the world of industry.”
Inspired by the fact that she could be a part of bringing new drugs to patients and discovering a career path where she could grow, Sally decided to focus on the research projects that had industry connection and drug development element. She also joined the Karolinska Institutet Postdoctoral Association (KIPA) and became their industrial liaison. This helped her build connections and a broad network in the Life Sciences community in the Nordic region.
Where passion and purpose align
Building on her skills, experience, education, and networks, Sally took the plunge and started her career outside academia. She worked as a project manager of nonclinical drug development for Swedish Biotech companies, developing medicines against autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, and expanding to therapeutic areas including cardiovascular diseases and cancer. She worked within the regulatory department to develop the company’s regulatory strategy, provide the required regulatory documentation and engage in agency interactions.
“I had a smooth transition into the industry, using my curiosity, education, organizational skills, and passion of understanding how drugs work. I was able to combine all of these elements into achieving a goal in drug development, including developing strategies, following regulations and guidelines, and delivering high-quality documentation of all the findings for the drugs, both in the pharmacology and toxicology development. I believe that understanding the regulatory requirements and following a structured regulatory strategy increase the chances of a successful drug development process.”
Sally's first encounter with NDA was in 2020 at a seminar to discuss the possibilities for interactions with agencies within and outside the EU. She found the seminar insightful and got to understand more about what regulatory affairs entails and how NDA supports drug developers around the world. In 2021, Sally joined NDA as a Consultant.
“I love learning. I like to keep learning and challenging myself, so when I was contacted by NDA, I didn’t hesitate for a second. After my first interaction with NDA at the seminar, I knew that this was a place where I could see myself learning and growing while contributing to bringing medicines to those who need it. I'm surrounded by a great team of experts with years of experience from different therapeutic areas, phases in the drug development, and regulatory operations and procedures, so I learn something new every day and implement this knowledge in the work I do and enjoy.”
Sally emphasises that her toolkit for success is hard work, goal setting, implementing the right strategy, communication and collaboration, building valuable networks, and continuous learning.