Feature Stories

Diversity of Ideas Strengthens our Business

Feb 15, 2019

In a new employee profile series, we highlight Astellas’ commitment to Diversity & Inclusion through exploring the personal stories of our employees. In our first interview of this series, we spoke to Astellas Clinical Pharmacology and Exploratory Development Director Angela James, a member of our African American Employee Resource Group.

 

How long have you been at Astellas? Can you tell us a little about your job?

I have been at Astellas for almost four years as a member of the Clinical Pharmacology and Exploratory Development Team (CPED). We evaluate the pharmacokinetics of our drugs - how they are absorbed, distributed, metabolized and eliminated.

CPED is instrumental in terms of drug development.  Every Astellas drug developed or approved has some input from my team! To be on a team where we act with urgency to serve patients and to get a drug to the market quickly and safely is the ideal situation for anyone in drug development.

Can you share your perspective on the importance of diversity and inclusion to Astellas?

I look at diversity not just as the color of your skin - I look at it as diversity of ideas. I think people of diverse backgrounds all bring something unique to the table and that is so essential. Diversity in thinking is essential to science. Science cannot thrive, grow and evolve without it.

Has membership in the Astellas African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) made a difference for you?

In the AAERG, or any ERG, you’re able to meet people across the organization from various functions and departments. Meeting people who are in roles very different from mine promotes connections across our business. I get to see the initial side of drug development, but I enjoy meeting employees who get to experience our treatments reaching patients.

In what ways does diversity play a role in our industry?

The number of African Americans who enroll in clinical trials is very low. Some drugs behave a little differently in different racial groups. If we don’t have a representative number of patients in clinical trials, we can’t characterize a drug well across different races.

Infamous and unethical clinical studies in our history, such as the Tuskegee Experiment, influence African Americans’ trust of clinical trials. Even though that was 40 or 50 years ago, there’s a trust factor that we still deal with as an industry.

I feel it’s my job to explain to people that every clinical trial has safeguards in place. I think with education and with more African Americans working as nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians, physicians’ assistants or in other roles in the healthcare industry, we are starting to change this lack of trust.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I have two sons. They’ve grown up in a different world than the one I knew. I grew up in Houston, which was segregated when I was younger.  It’s important to me that I regularly share with them stories and experiences of how life was very different for my parents.