PharmSci MSc graduate Julian Gilmore photographed outside the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy building

Julian Gilmore credits Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy with providing opportunities to explore clinical career paths  

Julian Gilmore had been considering a career in medicine for some time, but it wasn’t until the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020 when he had the time to focus on studying for the Medical College Admission Test and seriously think about applying. Gilmore, who completed his master’s degree in pharmaceutical science at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in June, will be starting a combined MD/PhD this fall at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, with the goal of becoming a clinician-scientist.

“I’m really looking forward to pursuing a career where I can form bridges between my research and clinical practice.”

“Clinician-scientists act as a bridge between the clinic and the laboratory and are able to explore questions that can be overlooked if you’re only focused on one of those settings,” says Gilmore. “I’m really looking forward to pursuing a career where I can form bridges between my research and clinical practice.”

Gilmore grew up in Toronto and earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical biology at McMaster University. At an HIV/AIDS research symposium during his final year, he met Reina Bendayan, a professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy who specializes in research related to the mechanisms that transport HIV drugs across blood-tissue barriers, and became interested in her team’s work. He applied to the master’s in pharmaceutical sciences program at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and started his degree, with Bendayan as his supervisor, in September 2018.

His research focused on the use of HIV drugs during pregnancy, specifically whether certain drugs cross the placenta and affect fetal development.

Using mouse models, he found that expression of drug transporters in the placenta and fetal brain was altered following exposure to HIV drugs, with different effects in males and females. “The implication is that exposure to these drugs during pregnancy can affect fetal gene expression in a sex-dependent manner,” Gilmore explains, “but we need more research to better understand the downstream impacts on developmental outcomes.”

On top of his academic work, Gilmore was highly involved in student activities and groups. He played on and captained an intramural basketball team, served as charity director for the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Student Association, and was events coordinator and treasurer for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences U of T student chapter.

Portrait of PharmSci MSc alum Julian Gilmore

Supervisor encourages Gilmore to consider clinical applications of basic research

As Gilmore began to consider his career options, he found opportunities at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy to attend seminars by different types of researchers and healthcare professionals and learn about a variety of research and clinical fields.

He knew he wanted to pursue a research career with a PhD, but he also became interested in exploring clinical questions, due largely to Bendayan’s support and encouragement to consider the broader applications of his basic research project.

“Julian has been an exceptional graduate student; I am delighted to see him embrace a clinical/ research career, there is no doubt that he will excel,” says Bendayan.

“Dr. Bendayan's very aware of what’s going on with the clinical side of things, and has always pushed me to research aspects of clinical care, like current treatment guidelines and drug side-effects, as well as present my research at outreach events in the HIV community,” says Gilmore. “She introduced me to that perspective, which had a big influence on guiding me toward medicine.”

As Gilmore starts his MD degree this fall, he is keeping an open mind about his potential specialization, though he remains interested in HIV and infectious diseases. He is excited about getting started on the next phase of his education, but he says he will also miss being part of the close-knit and supportive environment at the Faculty.

“I was able to become a part of the community at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, from attending great student events to interacting with professors, researchers, technicians and staff,” he says. “I’m really going to miss that sense of community, but I’m looking forward to staying connected with friends and colleagues from the Faculty.”

By: Eileen Hoftyzer

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