FAMU Pharmacy Doctoral Graduate Steps into Bright Future

December 15, 2023
Shade' Ahmed Gets Hooded
Shade' Ahmed Gets Hooded

On Friday, December 15, Shade’ A. Ahmed (pronounced Sha-day) will be among the more than 600 Florida A&M University graduates who will walk across the Al Lawson Multipurpose Gym stage to receive degrees.

For the Miami native, being hooded and awarded her doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences, marks the culmination of an 8-year FAMU journey of academic success and experiential learning that laid the groundwork for her career success.

“Overall, FAMU offered me a lot of opportunities,” Ahmed said. “My undergrad career felt like a treasure hunt. I knew there were opportunities at FAMU, but I knew I had to pursue and ask. I had to push myself to show effort and show I was interested in the things I wanted to do. It taught me to be persistent and helped me to become empowered and accomplished.”

Ahmed grew up in the nearby city of Miramar, Florida, before coming to Tallahassee. In 2015, she obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology-Pre-Medicine from FAMU. After her undergraduate studies, she worked as a program assistant for FAMU Graduate Studies and Research and as an executive assistant to the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department chair at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

In 2019, Ahmed joined the Pharmaceutical Sciences Doctoral program, concentrating in pharmacology/toxicology, under supervision of Professor Karam F.A. Soliman, Ph.D., and mentorship of research professors, Patricia Mendonca, Ph.D., and Samia Messeha, Ph.D.

“Having mentors made me feel supported. In times of need, they welcomed me with open hands. They were extremely open, patient, and helpful. Any conference I wanted to attend, my major professor would offer sponsorships to go. I love their support of my journey.”


Shade' Ahmed
Shade’ Ahmed


In 2020, Ahmed was awarded the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship from the Florida Education Fund. She earned her master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences in summer 2022.

In fall 2022, Ahmed won first place in the AbbVie Inc. FAMU student research forum of the Graduate Pharmaceutical Sciences Division. In Spring of 2023, she won second place in the FAMU Graduate Student Appreciation Week three-minute thesis (3MT) competition.

In summer of 2023, Ahmed interned at AbbVie Inc. in North Chicago, Illinois, and was one of 17 interns in the 2023 cohort of the Experiential Program: Portfolio Program Management EMBRACE.

In that role, she was placed on the Oncology Solid Tumors Acceleration Team (START) to support a non-small cell lung cancer initiative project, supported clinical trial assets from drug discovery to commercialization, assessed a multi-million-dollar to multi-billion-dollar budget, and interviewed several cross-functional stakeholders.

After returning to FAMU in the fall, she successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled, “Anticancer Effects of the Marine Carotenoid Fucoxanthin on Genetically Different Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells.”

In her research, she investigated the effects of fucoxanthin on cellular processes such as apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, migration and genes and proteins of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT signaling pathway in genetically different Caucasian and African-American Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Throughout her Ph.D. career, Ahmed published three first authored publication manuscripts in distinguished journals. She received many research presentation awards and was selected to speak at several national conferences. Ahmed was a part of organizations such as Sigma Phi Sigma Society- Beta Chapter, Rho Chi Honors Society, American Association for Cancer Research, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and American Society for Investigative Pathology. She is also an executive board member of the Africa Biobank Research Consortium.

“Shade’ exceeded expectations as a graduate student. Not only did she fulfill all the requirements to graduate, but she won awards for her research presentations, published in peer-reviewed journals, and got an internship at AbbVie Biopharmaceutical Company,” Professor Mendonca said. “I am sure she will do great things outside FAMU and will continue making us proud.”

This fall, with several biopharmaceutical companies vying for her talents, Ahmed accepted an offer to join Bristol Myers Squibb, for the Emerging Leaders Program: Manager, Global Product Development and Supply (GPS).

In her new role, as an Emerging Leader, she will undergo Leadership Development and Supervisory Roles in Product Development, Global Manufacturing Operations, Global Supply Chain, Global Quality, Strategy & Business Excellence, Global Engineering & Facilities, and Cell Therapy Development & Operations. Ahmed is excited about her prospects.

“I feel like there’s a bright future for me. There are going to be several opportunities there. Just as I had mentors at FAMU, I am going to have many mentors at my new company. I am going to be in great position to grow as a leader, as a manager, senior manager, and, hopefully, as a director and vice president, the sky is the limit.”