Usman Iqbal, Humanity Changemaker

Meet Usman Iqbal MD, MPH, MBA, the Chief Medical Officer at Julz Pharma. 

Dr. Iqbal's career in the pharmaceutical industry spans over 15 years, during which he has developed expertise in R&D, Medical Affairs, HEOR and Value and Access development, across both large and small cap biopharmaceuticals. His experience spans several therapeutic areas including Neuroscience, as the Senior Medical Affairs Leader at AstraZeneca Innovative Medicines Group (IMG), and in Oncology, as former Head of Sanofi Oncology, Global Evidence & Value Development (GEVD). He received his MD from Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan and has additionally earned MPH and MBA degrees from Boston University. 

“Every aspect of innovation, health care delivery, and outcomes has a value, efficiency and health economics component attached to it that needs intersection between traditional medicine and enterprise level business mode engagement,” says Iqbal. 

His interest in the pharmaceutical sector was grounded in and motivated by the possibility for innovation in the industry. “It made professional and human sense to pursue enterprising roles in pharmaceutical industry that could intersect different disciplines across drug development and commercialization, break silos with respect to product strategy and life cycle management and advance the notion of practical, patient centric value-based innovation in life sciences,” said Iqbal.  

 Education and a drive towards innovation weren’t the only factors that helped Iqbal on his journey. Like most other individuals who have achieved career success, he acknowledges the importance of a professional network. Iqbal worked deliberately to foster connections with individuals with expertise in medical affairs as well as those working in research and development, thoughtfully crafting his network to complement his desired career trajectory. “The advancements in both medical affairs and R&D are largely based on these new disciplines and working in intersecting disciplinary roles at different companies helped me learn expeditiously and also to present myself as an R&D/Medical affairs leader with futuristic competencies and skill set,” said Iqbal.  

His broad expanse of expertise and experience gives Iqbal a unique perspective on the Chief Medical Officer role, and poignant advice for rising leaders who wish to earn the CMO title for themselves. Beyond traditional clinical development expertise, a successful CMO must be “acting like a franchise CEO and strategically addressing the notions of medical value, competitive differentiation, patient centricity and payer positioning in drug development,” said Iqbal. “Fancy science or rudimentary clinical trial evidence only takes you so far. Ultimately it has to be tied to value-based patient centric trial designs and evidence based competitive positioning that can deliver the best differentiated target product profiles (TPP) for medical uptake and payers’ willingness to pay.” He also advises prospective and new CMOs to focus on the current and future healthcare landscape, developing a strategy focused on linking innovation to unmet needs in the patient marketplace. 

 In his own work, in addition to working towards greater innovation for patients as a CMO, Iqbal advocates passionately for greater diversity in clinical trials and the elimination of health disparities. The improved representation of people of color, ethnic minorities and women in clinical drug development would result in better data and better understanding of the treatment of a greater number of patients with a wider variety of medical concerns. In addition to prioritizing a diverse patient population in clinical trials in which Iqbal is involved, he also engages in thought leadership on the issue to the wider research community. Additionally, he said, “as a member of Boston University School of Public Health - Alumni Leadership Council (ALC), we facilitate the School’s dedicated efforts towards diversity & inclusion and elevating its ability to eliminate health disparities locally, nationally, and globally through excellence and innovation in research, education, and service.” 

For Iqbal, diversity is important both within patient populations as well as in the industry’s workforce, and he works to amplify individuals from underrepresented groups in the healthcare industry. “I have adopted an 80:20 rule with respect to my coaching & mentoring initiatives. 80% of my outreach and supporting interactions with students and health care professionals is geared towards women and people of color,” Iqbal said.  

 A strong network is essential for success in the healthcare and life sciences industry, and we’re proud that Iqbal is a member of the Humanity Talent Network, a private membership network of underrepresented leaders in healthcare and life sciences. Create a network of Changemakers like Iqbal by  joining HTN today.  
#HumanityChangemakers amplifies the work of people of color and women who are innovators and disruptors in the healthcare industry. For more updates, follow us at Humanity Health!