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TriNet Pharma Highlights the Rise of the Medical Science Liaison and Honors Legacy of Its Founder

As pharmaceutical reps are used less and less, the role of the MSL has become more prominent as a conduit between life sciences companies and external stakeholders for drug development.

From left: Mara Vaughan, Elaine Peng, and Kaitlyn Kasten

For those who knew Bryan Vaughan, the late founder of TriNet Pharma, he was an innovator and out-of-the-box thinker who recognized that building an effective life science recruitment company requires developing and cultivating relationships.

Earlier this year, TriNet Pharma relaunched its life science recruitment business with a new leadership team. Vaughan’s widow Mara Vaughan, who co-founded the company in 2009 with Bryan, is now president of the business, joining Principal Investor, Co-founder, and CEO Terry Mulloy on the management team. Elaine Peng, a life science industry recruiting veteran, joined as senior vice president to lead the company’s innovative and proprietary recruitment solutions.

Bryan Vaughan

“He had many conversations that were motivated by the factor of how do we solve this problem? How do we get the right people to the right companies, and how do we get these drugs to the people who need them,” Mara recalled. “My goal is to take all of that ambition and enthusiasm that he truly had for this industry. He loved it.”

One of the niche areas in which TriNet Pharma has built a business is the role of Medical Science Liaisons. They work across biopharma, medical device and diagnostic companies, communicating the nuances of a drug, device, or diagnostic development within a company and to stakeholders such as physicians, pharmacists and more.

Although pharmaceutical sales reps used to do some of this work, the rise of the medical science liaison role reflects the recognition that a more nuanced and informed clinical understanding was required. Although medical science liaisons often have a Pharm D degree, clinicians such as nurse practitioners and physicians also bring a wide variety of clinical experience to the role. It’s that communication bridge between the clinical development portion of the drug process and that commercial success, Peng observed. They are able to gather insights from all of these different perspectives that can really inform a company’s business strategy and give that organization a competitive advantage that they may otherwise not have had without that critical role.

“Because these MSLs bring unique experiences and unique therapeutic backgrounds, they’re able to gather actionable insights that can inform the business strategy for the life science company. They’re very nimble,” Peng said.

Peng noted that the MSL originally was really a stepping stone between development and commercialization. Now, life science companies realize that the earlier they get MSLs involved, the earlier they can have someone well-versed in explaining the science behind the drug, device, and diagnostic to stakeholders, including physicians, payers, and healthcare professionals. MSLs have an impactful role to play in these life science businesses.

TriNet Pharma has a lot to offer as a recruiter that helps them stand out from rivals, Peng said.

“A lot of work is done on the front end for every client,” Peng explained. “That costs money and most organizations aren’t prepared to spend that upfront time to do the work that we do to develop the pipelines of candidates that we give to our clients. That is something Bryan created that sets us apart from the rest of the industry.”

Vaughan was motivated in large part by his own experience as a dad. After he and Mara’s child was diagnosed with epilepsy, the life science industry took on an even bigger role in his life—one of hope. Vaughan knew that with the right medication, their child’s epilepsy could be managed or even cured. The experience also gave him and Mara firsthand insight into not only the diagnosis and treatment process but the emotional roller coaster of the patient experience for children and their families.

TriNet Pharma recently developed a legacy grant program in Bryan’s name to provide resources for others seeking to cure the vexing conditions that take an enormous toll on people and their loved ones. Despite its focus on recruiting, the management team is more interested in awarding the legacy grant to people and companies where it can impact the industry the most.

“You’re driven to develop drugs. Bryan couldn’t do that piece of it, but he could build the relationships that were needed to help with employment, and we all know your employees are your biggest asset, right? The grant was really established from a twofold perspective of continuing to build relationships in the industry, open doors, to make new connections, and to continue his drive for innovation,” said Kaitlyn Kasten, vice president of brand and growth strategies. “He saw firsthand the importance of these drugs in people’s lives, and how they could change the trajectory of families.”