Exploring the landscape of “big pharma”

22 January 2016

Fenix Wing Yin Leung (Oxford University Croucher Scholarship 2010) completed his doctoral studies in medical oncology before starting to work as a senior analyst at GlobalData Healthcare in London.

During his DPhil studies at the University of Oxford, Leung explored the responses and resistance of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer to the drug lapatinib using both cell line-based experiments and mouse xenograft models. “I identified that, upon HER2 inhibition using lapatinib, HER2-positive breast cancer cells uses NRG1-HER3 signaling as a compensatory pathway to escape the drug’s killing effect,” he explained. “I then added another drug, pertuzumab, on top of lapatinib, which managed to offset this compensatory pathway.” The anti-tumour activity of this drug combination was verified in vitro and in vivo and was confirmed to be more efficient than either drug alone. His novel findings were published in Oncotarget in 2015.

However, Leung decided to leave academia after completing his doctorate degree at Oxford in 2014. “As much as I would like to improve the treatment options for cancer patients, I realised that from bench to bedside, a new drug may only reach patients after ten years, and often pharmaceutical discovery and research is limited by research funding,” said Leung as he described his dilemma at that time. “It came to me that I would be able to make a bigger impact on patients if I can exert a strategic influence on pharmaceutical companies.”

Leung is currently working in London as a senior analyst in the oncology and haematology team of GlobalData’s Healthcare division. GlobalData Healthcare is an independent business information agency that provides data, such as product and clinical trial information and publishes market analysis reports, in order to enable clients to understand their target markets. “My main task is to write reports on the markets for oncology and haematology drugs, for example, melanoma and gastric cancer. Day-to-day work includes primary research (interviews and surveys), secondary research on cancer treatment algorithms and clinical trials, followed by analysis of the competitive landscape, unmet needs and opportunities, as well as pharmaceutical sales forecasts.

Leung has been enjoying his work so far and feels that he has made the right choice in leaving academia. “I am seeing daily progress at work. And I also see that my clients value the analyses and recommendations that I provide them.”

Leung completed a BSc in molecular biotechnology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2009. Then, he received the Oxford University Croucher Scholarship in 2010 as well as the Clarendon Scholarship to carry out research in the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Group under the guidance of Dr Anthony Kong and Professor Adrian Harris for his DPhil studies at the University of Oxford. Leung is currently working as a senior analyst in the oncology and haematology team of GlobalData’s Healthcare division.

To view Fenix Leung’s personal Croucher profile, please click here.