Christy England follows her passion for STEM.
What’s your role in public health?
I’m a Carolina alumna who received a Master of Public Health degree in leadership and epidemiology from the Gillings School in 2015.
This video offers a vignette of the unique role I have been blessed to serve in public health, as well as a look at the recent honor of representing a non-opioid acute care pain management therapeutic nominee for Best Biotechnology Product at the 2022 Prix Galien Awards in London. As the premier global institution dedicated to honoring innovators in life sciences, the Galien Foundation nominates Food and Drug Administration (FDA) therapeutics approved for marketing within the last five years that demonstrate tremendous potential to improve human health. The moments in this video are highlights of a journey, coming from Carolina with both science (undergrad) and public health (master’s) backgrounds and moving into national medical marketing roles (including health economics and outcomes research work) in a time of public health crises.
My current position as vice president of marketing for the acute care franchise at an innovative biotechnology startup has allowed me to play a critical role in developing and launching a solution for the current opioid crisis in the United States. Prior to this, my roles included head of marketing for hospital acute care at a global company and clinical scientist for several of the world’s best-known pharmaceutical companies in areas of medical unmet need.
With a history of roles dovetailing science, public health and medical marketing, my style of public health leadership combines end-to-end experience spanning early research and development, successful commercialization and a deep understanding of the field. The focus of my career has included addressing some of our nation and world’s most pressing public health issues from both a business and philanthropic perspective, including solutions to the opioid epidemic, responses to resistant pathogen infectious diseases and early exploration for a potential solution to treat COVID-19.
I have always been driven, collaborative and innovative throughout my 17+ years in the pharmaceutical industry as well as more than four years spent in direct inpatient care. I have been blessed with perspective through a history of identifying and understanding market gaps, implementing solutions and analyzing metrics to measure success based on extensive understanding of the health care environment and public health needs.
One of my recent notable contributions to public health as it relates to the opioid crisis is an authorship role in two Retrospective Database Review Project manuscripts. My key accomplishments have been commercial liaison work with government affairs and advocacy activities to support product momentum during a United States opioid epidemic public health emergency; this work included a town hall at Capitol Hill, efforts around legislation to change the current reimbursement landscape, leading global Medical Society partnerships for future guideline updates, and developing a national Postoperative Pain Coalition consisting of patient advocacy, policy and medical societies.
Can you describe your focus area in one sentence?
I address some of the most pressing public health needs in America and the world, from infectious diseases during the “Bad Bugs, No Drugs” initiative (when drugs were no longer efficacious due to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria), and development and education in non-opioid post-operative hospital pain management therapeutics as the opioid crisis emerged.
My work as a clinical scientist for a major pharmaceutical company focused on an infectious disease product during the “Bad Bugs, No Drugs” initiative, and I developed two global protocols and participated in FDA/European Medicines Agency discussions around developing pediatric protocols.
I made a choice to follow my passion for STEM (science, engineering, technology and math), which lead to a rewarding career in the health care space. My hopes for the future of STEM are to break stereotypes in public health while mentoring others to do the same. I had an excellent mentor and role model in the late Dr. David Steffen of the Gillings School, who encouraged my focus on epidemiological servant leadership while I was a graduate student.
I have found it essential not to limit myself in scope, because you never know where certain key strengths will unexpectedly merge or diverge to create a bigger public health leadership opportunity. Being willing to work from the ground up is key, as are taking risks and walking through unexpected doors at faith points that may stretch your vision. These beliefs have guided me on an atypical career path from entry level science to leadership as vice president of marketing of an acute care franchise.
I believe it is important to find balance and ensure that public health needs are not outweighed by corporate financial interests.
What brought you to public health?
The desire to improve population health through minimizing avoidable negative health consequences, which requires focusing on the bigger picture. A more preventative approach, as opposed to the treatment-only approach, often prevents the necessity of later treatment.
As I shared in a recent interview with colleague Erika Sinner of Directorie, I loved the sciences — especially biology — as I was growing up. I was passionate about learning how wonderful the human body is, as “we are fearfully and wonderfully made!” In high school, coinciding with my mother’s personal battle with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-classified Emerging and Infectious Disease, I took a course that enabled me to work in all departments of the hospital and obtain my Certified Nursing Assistant certification prior to graduation. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to continue learning and serving in the health care community, hopefully making a difference in the lives of patients around the world.
I like helping people. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on creating possible solutions to some of the most challenging public health issues.
Can you describe a time when you have pivoted in your public health career?
During my greatest pivot, I made a mid-career move from the research and development side of the industry to the commercial side, with a focus on medical marketing. This pivot was scary, to be honest, as it was a significant shift in responsibility and skill-set. After the initial career change, I realized that working to educate health care providers on pressing disease state issues and new solutions was extremely rewarding, and I enjoyed learning from the top key opinion leaders in the world.
I have developed lifelong friendships because of this career change, which I will always be grateful for. The shift also allowed me to move from development to raising awareness — making a difference by designing crucial messaging in a way that resonates with the public.
Who are you when you’re at home?
Faith, family, health and my community are my passions. Also, knowing that my work is making a difference drives and motivates me. I live in San Diego, where we have a large military community — which I am thankful for. My brother and father-in-law hav both served and are key role models and mentors of servant leadership for me.
It is important to my entire family to be active and enjoy the beautiful world around us. This started at a very young age for me through sports and horseback riding. As an undergraduate at, I was co-captain of the UNC-Chapel Hill equestrian team. This passion later took the form of completing a Ironman triathlete competition with my husband, Jim, while I was obtaining my master’s degree, working full-time and parenting our eighteen-month-old son.
Outside of my full-time job, there is a nonprofit organization I am very passionate about and have been part of for several years — I currently serve as a board member. Athena Women in STEM was once a San Diego-based advocacy organization with a focus on fast-tracking woman in STEM through leadership development that transformed scientists and technologists into corporate leaders. It has since branched out, both nationally and internationally, as a premier women’s advocate that supports and educates young women in STEM. The organization’s mission is to advance one million women leading in STEM by 2030. (If anyone would like to learn more or join this global STEM hub, you can contact me through LinkedIn!)
In addition to volunteering with the STOP Opioid Abuse National Coalition, where I am a founding member, I enjoy active lifelong membership at Rock Church San Diego and support the school in San Diego where our children, Elijah and Lillie Grace, attend — I see this as making a key investment in the next generation.
Read more interviews in The Pivot series.