October 2018 update: Jennifer Brandl is now working as a Clinical Trial Manager at Kezar Life Sciences; she was previously working in the same role at Portola Pharmaceutical.
When Jennifer Brandl first began the Certificate Program in Clinical Research Conduct and Management online, she was a research associate and felt limited in career prospects as she lacked a postdoctoral degree. While completing the courses, Brandl was given more responsibility at biotech company Immune Design to conduct Phase I clinical trials and continues to learn and master clinical activities. Shortly after graduating from the certificate, Brandl accepted an in-house position as clinical trial specialist. "I know that having the certificate helped me secure this new role and further internal advancements," Brandl says.
That knowledge and effort really made a difference when considering her for her first job within clinical operations.
Not only is Brandl happy with the knowledge she gained in the certificate, but also impressed her supervisor, Scott Houston. "Her completion of the Certificate Program in Clinical Research Conduct and Management at UC Berkeley Extension demonstrated that Jennifer had put in the work and made the effort to know and understand all the facets of clinical operations," he says. "That knowledge and effort really made a difference when considering her for her first job within clinical operations. She was able to clearly demonstrate her knowledge when she interviewed, and she has been successful and productive for our company from Day 1."
Now that I've been working directly in clinical operations, I've noticed that I am able to accomplish tasks with velocity and confidence.
"Not only was the certificate recognized by my current employer and helped me land my first official clinical operations job," Brandl adds, "but the course work provided the training I needed to really understand conducting clinical trials including the different roles and responsibilities. It provided real-world situations that required my ability to grasp the concepts and directly apply what I learned. Now that I've been working directly in clinical operations, I've noticed that I am able to accomplish tasks with velocity and confidence. My experience has helped me grow as a clinical professional, providing what is needed for the successful conduct of our clinical trials. In addition, after four months of working at Immune Design, I have also taken on the role of clinical trial manager for our Phase 1b Stud of CMB305, an incredible opportunity for me to further utilize my experience and education from UC Berkeley Extension."
Finding success as a researcher at biotech company Vaxart, Jennifer Brandl is taking on increased job duties, including clinical operations for phase 1 clinical trials. Seeking training to support these new duties—after an email about UC Berkeley Extension courses and a discussion with her boss—Brandl is immersed in the Certificate Program in Clinical Research Conduct and Management.
Because Brandl works full time while pursuing the certificate, she is completing the certificate online. With her busy schedule, Brandl’s key to success is not only in making time for her studies but also applying the course material on the job. “One of my classes was about regulatory documents, and at the same time, my boss had requested I go to one of our clinical trial sites and gather regulatory documents for the sponsor and site files,” she says. “Part of my homework was to create a regulatory document checklist. So for the class, I made the checklist; for work, I brought the checklist and did what I needed to do to gather the documents. I’m learning and implementing as the course goes, and that’s how you really retain what you’ve learned.”
In addition, Brandl appreciates her online instructors’ responsiveness to questions and clarifications. “I love that they post open discussions for everybody to talk about a topic,” she says. “Even though I’m looking at a computer screen, it feels more interactive than if I were in a lecture hall with 300 students and just taking notes.”