Alumni Spotlight


Olivia Lee, PharmD, MS

Associate Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research



Why did you pursue the Healthcare Decision Analysis program at USC?

I applied to this program simply to be better at my job. Given the ever-evolving healthcare environment, I wanted a program that would improve my application of health economic principles while helping me gain a better understanding of the overall healthcare landscape. The USC HCDA program came highly recommended by my manager, a USC alum. As I researched the program, I was immediately drawn to the comprehensive curriculum, the ability to continue working my full-time job and to obtain a masters degree (vs. a certification).

How has your USC HCDA experience shaped your success?

Through the USC HCDA program, I level set my understanding of core pharmaceutical, economic and business practices. The exceptional lecturers impacted my experience by elucidating the significance of what we were learning with real world examples. I went into the program with a narrow academic intention but left with a much greater professional outlook. From seeing the healthcare industry beyond my scope of work, and hearing about various opportunities even outside the pharmaceutical industry, I found the greatest value in gaining this new perspective.

Where is your career headed? What do you hope to achieve professionally?

I have more confidence and competence to work in health economics and outcomes research. I have been able to leverage my learnings and experience from this program within my new HEOR role. As for now, I would like to continue what I am doing and garner my own professional real world experience as I continually learn.


Jorge Farias, PharmD, MS

Director, Medical Outcomes Specialist



 Why did you pursue the Healthcare Decision Analysis program at USC?

After graduating pharmacy school I began my professional career at Sanofi, as a Sr. Pharmacy Account Specialist, working as the liaison for retail community pharmacy chains to help advance the role of pharmacists in delivering patient care. After my first year, I became very interested in learning more about managed care, health policy, and the value and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals. So I began looking at various graduate degree programs to help supplement my knowledge and skill set to catapult my career in the pharmaceutical industry. I found the MS degree in Healthcare Decision Analysis (HCDA) focused a lot on the items I wanted to learn more about and the weekend class schedule allowed me to continue working full time.

How has your USC HCDA experience shaped your success? 

The HCDA program provides students the opportunity to learn from experts in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and managed care, with the ability to network with various companies. My USC HCDA experience opened the door for me working at BluePath Solutions, a Health Economics and Market Access consulting company located in Los Angeles. As a Manager at BluePath Solutions, I worked on numerous projects related to health economic value demonstration, strategic pricing, access and reimbursement, and competitive intelligence for pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Where is your career headed? What do you hope to achieve professionally?

I recently began a new role at Pfizer as a Director and a member of their Medical Outcomes Specialist team. In this new role, I will be communicating the pharmacoeconomic value of Pfizer’s drugs to various payers (health plans, IDNs, medical groups, etc.) and working with them on outcomes research and population health management projects. This role will allow me to utilize the knowledge I gained in the HCDA program at USC and the skills from my previous work experience to bring value to my team and my organization. I look forward to being able to help bring valuable information to payers that will help them make more informed access decisions, and in turn better health outcomes to their members and patients.


Kaushik Sarikonda, MS

Senior Medical Communications Specialist, Market Access and Healthcare Strategy

Analysis Group


Why did you pursue the HCDA program at USC?

I have always been fascinated by the degree of innovation in healthcare, but I have realized that there are increasing challenges in the access and delivery of products and services across the globe. I am passionate about the value, access, and delivery of innovative therapeutic agents that improve the health and well-being of patients. Professionally, I wanted to pursue a career that is dedicated to bringing great value to the healthcare system. My goal was to improve decision making and problem-solving skills and leverage these skills to identify and resolve complex business problems by concentrating on the bigger picture. The HCDA program at the USC drew my attention as it a unique program that helps meet the demands of the global healthcare systems, and it incorporates the pillars of value and access – health economics, market access, and pricing and reimbursement.

How has your USC HCDA experience shaped your success?

Joining the HCDA program at the USC was the wisest decision I have made. The HCDA is one of a kind program that provided me with the concepts and tools to understand the dynamics of the global healthcare systems from the perspective of value, access, and delivery of healthcare services. The lectures from various experts in pharma/biotech, medical devices, consulting, managed care, and PBMs were fascinating as they focused on the real-world business problems and solutions, to succeed in the challenging global healthcare market. In this program, I have developed my technical skills, and strategic and analytical abilities, to bridge the gap between drug development and commercialization. The course material and the adult learning techniques were very helpful to solve various case study exercises drawn from the real-world business scenarios.

Where is your career headed? What do you hope to achieve professionally?

I am currently working in a Management Consulting company, Analysis Group, as a Senior Medical Communications Specialist – Market Access and Healthcare Strategy. It is an exciting time to be in the Health Economics and Market Access as the payers are increasingly demanding for more value of the drugs. Incorporating market access strategy early on in the clinical development is crucial to the successful launch and commercialization of drugs. To achieve this, there needs to be interplay between clinical development, health economics, and market access teams to generate the evidence of value throughout the lifecycle of a product.

I foresee the increasing healthcare costs and challenging payer demands, and hence down the road, I would like to continue my professional career in the health economics and market access space to meet the demands of the global healthcare systems.