A Passion for Biotech: Alex Rosen '11

Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016
by Alex Wheatley

As an undergraduate at Princeton, Alex was drawn to the Global Health Program for its health policy components and its tight-knit community. He formed a particularly close relationship with Professor Adel Mahmoud and cites his course “U.S. Medical Research and Researchers: Preeminence, Problems, Policies” (co-taught with Leon Rosenberg) as one of his favorites at Princeton.  Alex graduated from Princeton with a degree in economics in 2011 before heading off to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

At the Perelman School of Medicine, Alex pursued an interest in health services. One particularly influential project took place in the infectious disease department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He studied the transition from hospital to home/post-acute-care facilities for patients discharged from the hospital on IV antibiotics. In this role, he helped to implement the Infectious Disease Transition Service (IDTS), a program that has increased communication and reduced errors in patient transitions at the hospital. He enjoyed the systems-level thinking and the opportunity to positively impact the social aspects of healthcare delivery.  His interest in administration and health care management led him to the Wharton School, through which he entered a joint MD-MBA program in his third year of medical school.

Alex was introduced to biotechnology at Wharton, and he became fascinated by new drug development. Biotech companies—which he describes as a younger startup version of big pharma—develop new drugs called biologics, which are made from biologically-derived sources like proteins rather than the traditionally chemical-derived pharmaceuticals. This field has captured his imagination: after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 2016, he accepted a position at venture capital firm Venrock to continue working in biotech.

The global health background he developed at Princeton has been extremely important in shaping his interest in and approach to biotechnology. “Having a broader perspective on healthcare globally informs how you think about these questions,” he says. Consider this biotech dilemma: “How do you incentivize companies to develop new medications that can cure disease while curbing cost so that they’re accessible to all people?” It’s a question he says he can’t answer, but one he’s excited to explore.

Like GHP and global health more broadly, biotech is a complex field that calls upon the tenets of medicine, business, and policy. The value of a multidisciplinary education, he says, is profound: “As the world gets more interconnected and the challenges of healthcare innovation, access, and delivery become greater, people with multidisciplinary backgrounds will be uniquely positioned to have innovative ideas and to push the field forward.” We know that Alex Rosen will be one of these people. He has the multidisciplinary knowledge and passion for health needed to make a positive impact.

Alex Rosen ’11 graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Wharton School in 2016. He has since joined venture capital firm Venrock.