Career Recruitment Site

To Fulfill the Aspiration to
Bring Out New Medications

Early Development, Clinical Operations Tamae Morimoto
(Mentor:Masakazu Yasui)

As an individual who was saved by the power of medicine

My personal experience of being saved by medicine and my grandfather’s cancer greatly influenced me to pursue a career in drug development.
I developed allergies as a child, but I was very fortunate to have an EpiPen with me the time that I had an anaphylactic shock, which drastically improved my symptoms and saved my life. I remember being impressed by the effectiveness of the medication, but at the same time, I thought, “I survived because I had access to an effective medicine, but there are others who are not as lucky.” I was a patient when I suffered anaphylaxis, but I also experienced being a patient’s family member when my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. I realized then that illnesses affect not only patients but also their families and the people around them.

“I want to help people who are suffering from illnesses.” “I want to deliver new medicines to people who can’t be cured by the current existing drugs.” Such aspirations inspired me to study pharmacy and work for a company that focuses on new drug development.

After comparing several companies and organizations where I could get involved in new drug development, Astellas was at the top of my list. The decisive factor was their “employees.” I remember that the staff members I spoke to at the career fair seemed to be very energized and enthusiastic. I had opportunities to speak with employees from several other companies, but I was most excited and hopeful about working at Astellas. When I spoke with Astellas’ employees, I felt that if I could join this team, I would be comfortable expressing my opinion without hesitation regardless of age. I also got the impression that they were enjoying their work without any constraints.

Advancing every day with the support of reliable colleagues

The COVID-19 pandemic had already started when I joined Astellas, so orientation for new employees and induction courses for the development department were all conducted online. I found the induction course for the development department and one of the second-year training sessions, where I could speak with the clinical research coordinators, to be especially helpful. Although I couldn’t understand everything from the training at the time, I was able to connect the dots and understand what they meant when I actually started working as part of the team.

Among the various training and support for junior staff members, I found the one-on-one mentor system with senior colleagues to be very reassuring. Weekly meetings and feedback sessions involving senior staff members were also helpful, but most of all, I really liked that they fostered a comfortable environment to ask questions from the very beginning through the mentor-mentee relationship. I felt constantly supported by my senior colleague as I was able to resolve most of the issues on the spot due to his quick responses, and if he was busy, he would adjust his schedule to find a time to answer my questions. Having a mentor was especially helpful when I had just started working here as there were so many things I didn’t know. I’ve had many chances to speak to physicians at the clinical trial facilities through the course of my work, and it has been an advantage being able to observe my colleague speak and get advice on communication skills. Receiving my mentor’s support as I carried out my duties enabled me to build the skills to think and act independently, which I feel has led to my growth.

Since I started working at Astellas, I’ve been assigned to a group within the Clinical Development Department, where we handle clinical trials in Japan and Asia and carry out tasks related to global clinical studies. I used to primarily work on document translations required for clinical trials, such as protocols and informed consent forms. When I was first assigned to the group, I mainly participated in projects that were already in progress. But after a year, I had the opportunity to take part in the start-up of a new clinical trial. I was able to gain a completely new outlook on clinical trials after having the chance to engage in a project from the beginning. Through this experience, I learned how the documents that I’ve been working with were created and had the opportunity to read through relevant regulations for composing the documents from scratch. It was a really good experience to look at clinical trials from a broader perspective and rewarding to be able to take part in the start-up of the clinical trial as well. I also think it was great that I participated in the start-up project after having various experiences in clinical trials that were already up and running. This experience turned out to be a turning point for me, and I was able to achieve further growth as a member of the development division.

Having said that, I feel that I still have a long way to go when I look at all the talented colleagues around me. I would like to continue developing my knowledge and skills so that I’ll be able to handle clinical trials as my primary duty, just like my senior colleagues, and serve as the leader of global clinical studies further down the road.

Continuing to take up challenges as an individual and as a company

Even as a third-year employee, I can tell that Astellas continuously challenges itself to reach its goal based on the corporate philosophy outlined in Astellas Way and VISION. This is because the corporate philosophy and missions aren’t merely slogans, and all employees share the same aspirations to “help patients” and “deliver better drugs”, and also to continue taking up challenges to reach these goals. The number of years in the company and position titles don’t matter for this. I was able to achieve growth in my first year by experiencing many things and taking on challenges as my colleagues supported me through them. I can say with pride that Astellas is a rewarding workplace where you can feel your own growth each day if you are self-driven and aspire to take up new challenges.

Tamae Morimoto’s Mentor: comments from Masakazu Yasui

Tamae was one of the first staff members to join Astellas during the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of the mentor support was offered online. Since we tend to have poor communication when we don’t get to see each other in person, we had weekly one-on-one meetings to see her progress and to support her if she had any questions or concerns. I also tried to make her feel comfortable contacting me whenever she needed help.

What I value in mentorship is supporting the development of my mentee by allowing them to think independently and put their ideas into action. That’s why from her first year, I tried to let Tamae work on combined tasks instead of one-off assignments so that she would have the chance to think about her goals and plan of action on her own.

After about a year, I got her to create the informed consent form (ICF) for Japanese patients as part of the start-up project of a multi-national clinical trial. Since we had to customize the global ICF to meet the regulations in Japan, close communication with the Japanese and global members was essential. On top of that, Japan had to start the study before other countries, which gave us very limited time. Therefore, the project involved tasks that required various skills, such as managing the overall timeline and confirming and collaborating with all parties involved. Despite such circumstances, Tamae was able to accomplish her duty independently with a strong sense of responsibility. Tamae herself says that she was able to achieve growth from this experience, and as her mentor, I could clearly see her improvement as well.

Astellas offers numerous learning opportunities, including the mentorship system and education support and training for junior staff members, and regularly runs optional external training sessions as well. Besides these training courses, we have a corporate culture where we strive together to improve ourselves. With the recent idea of “fostering a feedback culture,” I feel that we’ve created a positive workplace atmosphere where we give each other feedback on a daily basis to help ourselves thrive. I think you can find many opportunities to grow and improve yourself here, as we have a supportive environment where senior colleagues will willingly help you through your challenges if you show commitment and motivation.

Development department introduction