Already a DIA Member? Sign in. Not a member? Join.

Sign in

Forgot User ID? or Forgot Password?

Not a Member?

Create Account and Join


Meredith Smith

Director, Risk Management, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Adjunct Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
DIA Volunteer

Read Biography


In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge in your field?

I’ve been working in the area of drug safety over the past decade or so. To my mind, two of the biggest challenges in that field concern organizational culture and change management. I think there’s need for increased attention to building a culture that aligns with a continuous learning healthcare system, is patient-centered, and is receptive to innovation of all kinds.

Where do you see your field going? What is your vision of the field in 2030?

Great question! I think the field will be transformed in several important ways by 2030. First, there will be the growing ascendency of patients as partners in the drug development process, including in the realm of drug safety itself. Second, there will be increased reliance on the use of behavioral science methods and expertise in designing the entire drug experience (as opposed to focusing on developing a new molecule or biologic only). Third, there will be much greater use of a variety of digital tools to support safe and appropriate use of medicines, including both in drug labeling as well as in other forms of communication, education, and training drug companies develop for healthcare professionals and patients.

What book are you currently reading and why?

I’ve been re-reading a classic by Edgar Schein, a former professor at the MIT School of Management, called Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling. I came across it a few years ago, and every so often I find myself re-reading it in part or in its entirety. It’s very short (under 150 pages) and beautifully written. The basic premise is that by asking others (instead of telling them) one builds more trusting relationships, which in turn lead to better communication and enhanced collaboration. Obviously, it’s a perspective that’s equally relevant in the professional context as well as in private life.

What have you become better at saying “no” to? (Distractions, invitations, requests, etc.) What approaches or realizations helped you?

I’ve been trying to become more disciplined about how often I check the newsfeed on my iPhone. It’s far too easy to check it repeatedly in the course of a single hour. I’ve been tracking my success in cutting back by reviewing the daily screen time report – so far, so good!

What would you like to see DIA do for you in the future?

I view DIA’s decision to host its 2020 Global Annual Meeting virtually as a terrific opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic aside, the trend towards increased use of virtual learning approaches is only expected to accelerate in the coming years. I am seeking to increase my proficiency in designing, leading, facilitating, and otherwise engaging in various types of virtual forums, and my involvement in DIA provides me with abundant ways to do so now. I hope DIA will continue to pioneer in this space and provide hands-on training and guidance in this realm to its committee members and other volunteers

Meredith Smith, PhD, MPA, is a behavioral scientist and health services researcher by training with over 15 years of professional experience in the pharmaceutical industry. In her current role as Director of Risk Management at Alexion Inc., she oversees a state-of-the-art electronic risk management tracking system and is building capacity for digital risk minimization measures, structured benefit-risk assessment, and patient-centered approaches to risk management. In terms of professional service, Smith has been an invited participant in risk management workshops and panels sponsored by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has served as a member of several CIOMS working groups on various aspects of drug safety. Smith is currently a member of IMI-PREFER, an international working group seeking to develop consensus recommendations on methods for patient preference elicitation for benefit-risk assessment, where she is Industry Co-Lead on the lung cancer case study as well as Lead of the Patient Communication workstream. She is also Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology (ISPE) and serves on its Taskforce on Real World Evidence. For the past two years, she has served as Track Chair, Clinical Safety and Pharmacovigilance, for the DIA Annual Meeting Program committee. Smith has published widely in the peer-reviewed literature on patient-reported outcomes, risk communication, benefit-risk assessment, and risk management.

DIA Spotlights

Be informed and stay engaged.

Don't miss an opportunity - join our mailing list to stay up to date on DIA insights and events.