Meet Elaine Jones. As a medicines development leader at GSK, she heads up a team that represents each step of a respiratory medicine’s journey to becoming a treatment. Here, she explains how her team helps people with respiratory conditions live every breath.
There is a simple quote offered by a patient at a scientific meeting that Elaine always keeps in mind. The patient told Elaine that she’d heard a lot about efficacy and safety of a particular medicine, before announcing matter-of-factly:
“…if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”
She explains: “Those words had a profound effect on me and I try to remember them through the ups and downs of developing a new drug – they truly inspire me to do what I do.”
That simple statement reminds Elaine every day that her job at GSK is about being relentless in her pursuit of helping people with asthma and COPD breathe better.
From idea to real-life therapy
Just as her title says, Elaine’s role at GSK is to lead the development of new medicines. But what does this actually mean?
“I’m like a champion for the new medicine,” says Elaine, who heads up a team of GSK employees representing each part of a medicine’s journey from research to real-life.
“A medicine starts as an idea in the mind of a chemist or a biologist. Research is then conducted and data is collected,” she explains.
It’s then Elaine’s job to take this promising research data and work with every aspect of the drug development process to transform it from the page, into a medicine that patients can hold in their hands and benefit from.
A large team of specialists are involved in the development of a medicine. And Elaine’s role is pivotal in ensuring this team comprising scientists, statisticians, regulators, and representatives from across GSK, is aligned and working together to ensure this complex process runs smoothly.
“You’re all working together with the aim of making the product available for physicians to prescribe and for patients to benefit from.”
The path to medicine development leader
Elaine’s own vocational background makes her uniquely placed to oversee this multi-layered journey of a medicine. She initially trained as a pharmacist, and began her career with GSK working in sales, then product management, before moving into regulatory affairs.
It was here where she developed a better understanding of the approval process and learned what evidence is needed to grant regulatory approval. Lessons that serve as the foundation of her work today.
And after 18 years in the role, Elaine felt it was time for a new challenge; the role of medicines development leader seemed like it was tailor-made.
A key element of her role now is take all of the lessons she has learned over the course of 18 years and use them to help push the development process forward, overcoming obstacles and always asking how things could be done differently.
Her ultimate goal is clear:
“It’s all about getting the right medicine to the patient as quickly as possible, with the right data.”
Elaine expresses her unaltered passion for her job, revealing that in the face of challenges sometimes thrown her way, she always remembers those patient’s words: “if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”
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