UCSF PharmD students win first place in 2022-2023 Value of Industry Pharmacists (VIP) Case Competition

A team of UCSF PharmD students has taken the top spot in the 2022-2023 Value of Industry Pharmacists (VIP) Case Competition. Organized by the Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO), the annual, months-long competition aims to give pharmacy students a deeper understanding of the drug development process and recognize the value of PharmDs in industry. This year’s competition is sponsored by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), Seagen Inc, and Astellas Pharma.

The competition also fosters cross-functional collaboration within the teams. This year, it challenged them to utilize their clinical and scientific knowledge to create a comprehensive clinical, regulatory, medical, and commercial plan to bring to market a novel drug for the treatment of urothelial carcinoma.

The team, fielded by the UCSF student chapter of IPhO, rose to the top of the 72 participating groups based on their professional and polished slide deck submission and subsequent 45-minute oral presentation. As a result, team representatives will attend the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) Think Tank this August in Washington, DC, to present their drug development plan. Physicians and other clinicians, researchers, pharmaceutical industry representatives, patients, and caregivers performing work in or affected by bladder cancers will all be on hand for the event.

This marks the third year UCSF students have participated in the VIP Case Competition, with the UCSF team placing third in the previous year. Following that success, team codirectors Amelia Lao and Noor Elbershawi, under the guidance of IPhO faculty advisor Leslie Carstensen Floren, PharmD, PhD, MA, designed a five-month industry elective to provide structure and guidance to the team’s participation, fostering a competitive submission and enhancing the experiences of the student entrants.

Winning team

First- and second-year PharmD students from the UCSF School of Pharmacy who participated in the competition and elective:

many headshots and names, all listed below.

Team Codirectors

  • Amelia Lao
  • Noor Elbershawi

Clinical Development

  • Slade Schneider (lead)
  • Rania Ibrahim
  • April Zhou
  • Isabelle Nguyen
  • Christine Lee
  • Sandhyarani Gullapalli

Regulatory Affairs

  • Giovanni Lara (lead)
  • Zunaira Iftikhar
  • Ryan Sue

Medical Affairs

  • Sylvia Choi (lead)
  • Masha Vodovoz
  • Mirna Kalayjian
  • Kathryn LeMoine
  • Nour Khaddaj Mallat

Commercial & Marketing

  • Mark Gutin (lead)
  • Ryan Doan
  • Kiana Hocutt
  • Amy Xiao
  • Laura Formosa

Industry mentors



Afshar Hassani, PharmD

Vir Biotechnology

Alexander Andreev-Drakhlin, MD


Ann Chen, PharmD

Gilead Sciences

Danh Huynh, PharmD

Gilead Sciences

Douglas Beeman, PharmD


Engie Salama, PharmD

Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Erik Goluboff, MD, MBA


Francisco Villegas, PharmD

Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Iris Tam, PharmD


Marc Spangner, PharmD


Marie Davies, PharmD


Rutanshu Shah, PharmD


Sharon Sakai, PhD

Tempest Therapeutics


School of Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.