Joan Affleck G’24 on Drew University’s Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities Program

The pharma executive knows the whole person needs to be considered in clinical research

June 2022 – Joan Affleck G’24, associate vice president at Merck & Co., enrolled in Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities (DMH) program to further her interdisciplinary research in the sciences, humanities, and business.

Drew’s Medical and Health Humanities program addresses today’s urgent need for humanization and care in the healthcare industry and beyond. Affleck shared why she chose Drew’s DMH program to ultimately improve people’s lives through humanizing clinical research.

Why did you choose Drew’s Medical and Health Humanities Program?
I have a history of combining academic work in the sciences, humanities, and business. The doctoral program in Medical and Health Humanities takes my interdisciplinary interests to the next level. The diversity of subject matter linked with the rigor of research methodology affords a rich environment for intellectual inquiry and practical application of new insights and knowledge.

How will you apply the learnings from the program to your role in the pharmaceutical industry?
In clinical research we need to consider the whole person. When developing medicines and vaccines that save and improve people’s lives worldwide, we benefit from examining those lives through the lenses of the individual narrative and aggregate data, diverse social and cultural factors, and ethics. These inquiries allow for a deeper understanding of the ontology and epistemology of health and well-being. In turn, they broaden my global leadership perspectives and empower me to better serve and guide clinical development programs, staff, and patients.


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