Leading the Fight Against COVID

Janelle Sabo receives School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC School of Pharmacy is honoring Dr. Janelle Sabo (Pharm.D. ’00) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award.

Janelle Sabo, Pharm.D., R.Ph., M.B.A., is a 2000 graduate of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. An executive leader in clinical research design, development and delivery, she joined Eli Lilly and Company shortly after earning her degree at UMKC. She is currently vice president of clinical capabilities, serving as the global head of clinical innovation, system and clinical supply chain at Eli Lilly and Company. She has accountability for the overall development, registration and launch of anti-COVID-19 therapeutics across the globe.

In her role, Sabo places an emphasis on deeply understanding science, the patient and leaning into innovative strategies to accelerate development. She led the COVID-19 Therapeutics Platform that delivered multiple neutralizing monoclonal antibodies that are widely used in the global fight about the virus. She was also integral in establishing one of the first drive-through testing clinics, which became the gold standard.

Sabo also uses her vast experience as a pharmaceutical industry leader to serve her alma mater as a member of the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Advisory Council, providing expert guidance on curriculum and programmatic offerings.

What led you to pursue a career in pharmacy?

I have always loved science and helping people. In high school, I did a few rotations with different health care professionals in my hometown and found that ideal intersection of chemistry, biology and helping people was possible in pharmacy.

Tell us about your work fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has changed your professional life.

We worked on a study in one of the most impacted patient populations, nursing homes. Our team developed a mobile research unit that can go to rural and urban communities quickly as COVID outbreaks occurred. This approach continues to be utilized to create excellent clinical research in populations and therapeutic areas underserved and underrepresented in clinical research. One of my most important experiences has been finding new ways to rapidly bring clinical research into communities, including those that are underserved and underrepresented. Continuing to expand access to clinical research across the globe remains a key priority for me. 

What advice do you have for students who would like to follow your footsteps?

Pharmacy is an outstanding foundation to support a career in discovering and developing new medicines for patients with few or no options for treatment. Drug development requires taking your education and clinical experience, translating it to designing clinical studies to develop the data, insights and information that will be needed to help clinicians know how to use the new medications in their patient population and what to expect in terms of benefits and risks.

Where can you be found on weekends? What are your hobbies?

Most weekends are spent at volleyball, basketball, and flag football games and tournaments with my girls. In my free time, I love to cook, hike, spend time at the beach or at the pool and with family and friends.

About Alumni Awards

Join us in honoring Sabo and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.

Learn more about School of Pharmacy

Published: Mar 14, 2022

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