Dean's Hours

Dean's Hour: Careers in Toxicology

Date: Tuesday, November 9

Nikaeta Sadekar headshot

Nikaeta Sadekar, B.Pharm. ’10P, ’17Ph.D.

Respiratory Toxicologist 
Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) 

Dr. Sadekar joined the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials in January of 2018. She is the lead for Local Respiratory Toxicity Safety Assessment and its research program. She is engaged in various collaborations across the scientific community with academic, governmental, and industrial peers to develop the RIFM’s Respiratory Sciences program. 

As a part of the process team, Dr. Sadekar is also actively involved with various process development projects within RIFM. Communicating scientific projects to a broad audience is part of her role and responsibilities at RIFM. Dr. Sadekar has practical training working with in vitro and in vivo models (2009–17), and is experienced in teaching and leading the Biomedical and Human Anatomy and Physiology laboratories at St. John’s University (2011–16). 

She is an active member of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), where she participates in several specialty sections and special interest groups. She served as the Counselor for the SOT’s Ethical, Legal, Forensic, and Societal Issues Specialty Section between 2019 and 2021. The Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section at SOT recognized Dr. Sadekar for her doctoral work investigating the toxicity profile of Ras Sindoor, an Indian Ayurvedic medicine used as an alleged therapeutic agent (2017). 

She has co-authored many peer-reviewed publications and serves as a reviewer for scientific journals. Dr. Sadekar has served as the newsletter editor for the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology since 2019. Her skillsets include human health risk assessment, and her research interests are associated with developing alternative methods to animal studies, using in vitro and in silico tools.

Dr. Sadekar has served on the scientific advisory panel focusing on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (December 2018) and as a Peer Reviewer for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (October 2020). She was a member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at St. John's University (2016–17), volunteered for service on the Women in Toxicology Awards Committee (2016), and has served as the Mercury Toxicity Poster Session Chair at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting (2016).

Siddharth Sunilkumar headshot

Siddharth Sunilkumar ’19Ph.D.

Postdoctoral scholar
Penn State College of Medicine

Dr. Sunilkumar is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Penn State College of Medicine. He began his academic career majoring in pharmaceutical sciences and earned his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences with a concentration in toxicology from St. John’s University under the mentorship of Sue M. Ford, Ph.D. 

A result-oriented scientist and an innovative leader with more than 10 years of research experience in academia, Dr. Sunilkumar has multiple peer-reviewed manuscripts and has secured $20,000 in research funding. 

In his current role, he studies diabetes pathophysiology and the underlying mechanisms of development and progression of diabetes-associated pathologies. His expertise in cell signal transduction mechanisms with a focus on mTOR and cyclic-AMP-mediated signaling pathways also aids in developing better in vitro models for studying disease pathophysiology. 

Dr. Sunilkumar’s duties involve planning and coordinating studies, as well as writing and editing manuscripts and research grants. His work on a novel hypothesis derived from stress protein-influenced retinal pathologies has been awarded a research grant by the Children’s Miracle Network. 

As a graduate student, his research focused on renal cell phenotype changes influenced by culture media composition. His experience as a teaching fellow at St. John’s has been conducive in his development as an academician. The collaborative environment fostered both during his graduate work and currently has allowed him to be actively involved in the scientific community mentoring junior scientists in toxicology and molecular physiology. 

Jnelle Oxford headshot

J’nelle Oxford, M.P.H.

Health Program Coordinator
New York State Department of Health, Division of Epidemiology

Ms. Oxford is currently the Health Program Coordinator for the New York State Department of Health’s Division of Epidemiology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in toxicology from St. John’s University in 2013, and went on to pursue her master’s in public health at Kaplan University. 

She began the COVID-19 pandemic working at the local level of a county health department performing case investigation and contact tracing; she also assisted setting up their drive thru testing site and specimen transport. She then went on to secure a position with the Department of Health, during which she has been on a team assisting with all state-operated mass vaccination sites across New York State. 

At peak of the pandemic, there were 30 sites open seven days a week in all regions of New York State. She is currently the subject matter expert for the state program known as the Countermeasure Data Management System, which handles patient registration for all mass vaccination sites, as well as their record processing and retention.

Kristen Brocavich headshot

Kristen Brocavich, D.D.S. ’13P

Private Practice, Long Island, NY 

Dr. Brocavich is currently practicing as a periodontist in Islip, Commack, and Setauket, NY, in multiple private periodontal offices. From a young age, Dr. Brocavich had a passion for science and an interest in dentistry. 

She began her undergraduate studies at St. John’s University, and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor in Science in Toxicology with a minor in Chemistry, and earned a Gold Medal from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. During her time at St. John’s University, she was an active member of Tau Omega Chi and had the opportunity to serve as President in her senior year.

Upon graduation, Dr. Brocavich continued her studies at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, where she earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2017. She continued her postdoctoral training at Stony Brook’s Advanced Education Program in Periodontics, where she earned her certificate in Periodontics and Implant Dentistry in 2020. Dr. Brocavich also earned her Master of Science with a focus in Oral Biology and Pathology while completing her specialty certificate. Her research focused on bone regeneration of a novel nanoparticle scaffold in craniomaxillofacial defects. 

As a periodontist, Dr. Brocavich provides nonsurgical and surgical treatment for the treatment of gingival and periodontal diseases. She also replaces missing teeth through the placement of dental implants.

Past Dean's Hours

Date: Wednesday, November 18
Time: 4:30–6 p.m. 
Program (PDF)

Featured Speakers

Victoria Bartasek headshot

Victoria Bartasek, R.Ph. ’97P

Senior Associate Director, Global Pharmacovigilance

Victoria Bartasek, R.Ph. ’97P, is a Senior Associate Director, Global Pharmacovigilance, at Boehringer-Ingelheim. In this role, Ms. Bartasek has led a cross-functional global team focused on improving processes and systems related to the handling of serious adverse events from clinical trials and ensuring global regulatory compliance related to clinical trial processes within global pharmacovigilance. She currently leads a team responsible for the coordination, review, and operational approval of all marketing and patient support programs worldwide.  

Prior to Boehringer-Ingelheim, Ms. Bartasek spent 14 years at Pfizer Inc. in Global Pharmacovigilance, where she held various positions with increasing responsibility, most recently as Director, Worldwide Safety and Regulatory Operations, where she led the initiative for the global safety database transition. She began her pharmaceutical career at Novartis as a Clinical Safety Scientist and is a registered pharmacist by trade. She graduated from St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and also holds a Master of Business Administration degree in finance and marketing from Dowling College.


Kenneth Joseph headshot

Kenneth Joseph, Pharm.D.

Manager II,  Specialty Channel Strategy
Market Access -Trade and Distribution - US Specialty

Kenneth Joseph, Pharm.D., is currently a Specialty Channel Strategy Lead, Market Access, Trade and Distribution, for multiple Specialty Portfolio products at AbbVie Inc. In this role, he is responsible for implementing innovative clinical programs and executing business strategies to increase patient access and adherence, as well as to enhance the patient journey. The programs are operationalized in selected pharmacies and have a health informatics component that is utilized to help strategize from a business intelligence perspective. 

Prior to AbbVie, Dr. Joseph worked at Walgreens in a vast array of different leadership capacities ranging from, but not limited to, Community Engagement Lead, University Relations, Pharmacy Management, and most recently at Walgreens corporate headquarters in Deerfield, IL, supporting the company’s multichannel specialty pharmacy model across the nation in their Biopharmaceutical Business Development Division. 

After a 12-year tenure with Walgreens, he left to pursue a new adventure and joined AbbVie Inc. in late 2018. Dr. Joseph obtained his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where he was elected, most notably, Mr. College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacy Student Council President, and Graduate Student Body President. He is also a member of the Delta Iota chapter of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, Inc., as well as the Upsilon Psi chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. 

Dr. Joseph still actively mentors students as a career coach and guest lecturer at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, the University of Florida, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and several other institutions. He is also currently completing his M.B.A. at UIC’s Liautaud Graduate School of Business, where he also sits on the Board of Directors for the Center for Supply Chain Management and Logistics.


Lance Moore headshot with green dot pattern in upper left hand corner

Lance Moore, R.Ph., J.D. ’99P, ’04L

Executive Director, US Commercial Compliance
Allergan, an AbbVie company

Lance Moore, R.Ph., J.D. ’99P, ’04L graduated cum laude in 1999 from St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy and a minor in business. He has been a registered pharmacist since 1999. While at St. John’s, he interned at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and was a member of various clubs and organizations, including the men’s lacrosse team, President’s Society, and the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists. He graduated from St. John’s School of Law in 2004 and was admitted to the New York Bar in 2005.  

Mr. Moore worked for Genovese Drug Stores, Inc. from 1995 to 1999 in various roles as a pharmacist, graduate student, intern, and technician. After graduating from pharmacy school, he worked as a sales representative for Eli Lilly and Company from 1999 to 2004, where he educated physicians on products in the diabetes and neuroscience diseases states while earning sales awards such as Presidents Council, Executive Council, Leadership Circle, and District Peer Award.

After graduating from law school, Mr. Moore took a position at Pedinol Pharmacal Inc., a small pharma company on Long Island, NY, as the Regulatory Affairs Director and Legal Executive from 2005 to 2012. His responsibilities ranged from handling legal issues such as contracts and litigation; regulatory issues such as US Food and Drug Administration communications, reporting, and approvals; and compliance issues such as internal policy creation and training.  

He transitioned to a focused compliance role in 2012 at Allergan, an AbbVie Inc. company (formerly, Actavis and Forest Labs). This role supported sales, marketing, and commercial teams as a business partner to make smart business decisions consistent with company policy, government regulation, and the law. A large focus included employee training, monitoring, and policy development. Recently, the compliance team was recognized as the 2020 Global Function Team of the Year and compliance members were included on the 2020 General Medicine Cross-Functional Team of the Year.


Allen Sieh headshot

Allen Sieh ’19Pharm.D.

Associate Medical Director 

Allen Sieh ’19Pharm.D. is currently an Associate Medical Director at ProHEALTH Care. Dr. Sieh is the medical lead for several medical affairs and medical information projects in the cardiology/nephrology space. He has also played a key role in the development of various peer-to-peer educational materials for a multiple sclerosis treatment. Additionally, he has experience supporting a drug launch by contributing to the development of advisory board materials for a wet age-related macular degeneration treatment.

MASOT SEAL in gold
Tau Omega Chi logo - St. John's University







Date: Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Time: 5–6:30 p.m. 
Click here for Program PDF

The event was sponsored by the Office of the Dean in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Tau Omega Chi. It was supported, in part, by the Society of Toxicology (SOT) through the Mid-Atlantic SOT Regional Chapter.

Featured Speakers

Naila Habeeb headshot

Naila Habeeb ’16P, ’19GP

Associate Toxicology Specialist 
Shiseido Americas Innovation Center

Ms. Habeeb is currently employed as an Associate Toxicology Specialist at Shiseido Americas Innovation Center. She began her academic career at St. John’s University and became very involved in organizations on campus such as Women in Leadership, Global Medical Brigades, Delta Phi Epsilon, and Tau Omega Chi. She also served as an Orientation Leader at New Student Orientation. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Toxicology with a minor in Chemistry in 2016 and continued at St. John’s to pursue her Master of Science degree in Toxicology

During her graduate years, she was fortunate to gain experience as a teaching assistant. She completed her thesis research work under the mentorship of Jeanette C. Perron, Ph.D. Her efforts focused on identifying the role of bone morphogenetic protein in alcohol toxicity in an overarching project mimicking the clinical model of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She defended her thesis in 2019.   

Working since 2018 at her current position at Shiseido, Ms. Habeeb has been responsible for reviewing ingredients in final cosmetic formulas and ensuring they are safe for consumer use. Additionally, she monitors clinical studies to ensure they are running according to protocol and analyzes data to ensure clean results. Shiseido has also been supportive of her passion to keep active in the research field and as such, she was able to present some collaborative research with Shiseido and other labs across international meetings such as Eurotox and the Society of Toxicology.


Sesha Kallakuri headshot

Sesha Kallakuri ’15GP

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)

Ms. Kallakuri is a Toxicologist in the Toxicology and Assessment section at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In her role, Ms. Kallakuri leads the toxicology review of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance sites, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sites, the National Priorities List, and other sites of environmental contamination where real or perceived exposure to hazardous substances potentially threatens public health. She is responsible for evaluating environmental data, providing technical support for human health risk assessment, and determining whether a public health hazard exists. As part of her job, Ms. Kallakuri collaborates with other federal, state, and local health departments, as well as regulatory agencies, and interacts with the public via meetings, telephone conversations, and field visits, responding to community health concerns.

Ms. Kallakuri earned her Master of Science degree in Toxicology in 2015 from St. John’s University. Prior to her current position, Ms. Kallakuri was employed at L’Oréal USA Research and Innovation as a toxicologist from 2015 to 2017. During that time, she evaluated the toxicity of chemical ingredients in hair products to ensure product safety of finished formulations.


Rohan Nagavally headshot

Rohan Nagavally, D.A.B.T. ’11GP, ’15Ph.D.

Director, Occupational Toxicology
Mylan Inc.

Dr. Nagavally is the Director of Occupational Toxicology at Mylan Inc. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy, and a Master of Science degree in Toxicology and a Ph.D. from St. John’s University. He is also an American Board of Toxicology-certified toxicologist. 

Dr. Nagavally joined Mylan after completing his Ph.D. in 2015 and leads the occupational toxicology function. He provides toxicology and risk assessment expertise to support Global Environment, Health and Safety initiatives concerning research and development and manufacturing decisions regarding Mylan products. As the subject matter expert for occupational toxicology, he collaborates with various stakeholders across the company. He is a key contributor supporting antimicrobial resistance, pharmaceuticals in environment initiatives, and an industrial hygiene function for Mylan. 


Jessica Placido-Weber headshot

Jessica Placido-Weber ’07GP, ’16Ph.D.

Assistant Toxicologist 
Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research
Division of Forensic Toxicology

Dr. Placido-Weber is currently an Assistant Toxicologist at the Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research, Division of Forensic Toxicology. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Fairfield University in 2004. She then went on to obtain her master’s degree in Toxicology from St. John’s under the tutelage of S. William Zito, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean and Professor, and continued in the same laboratory to earn her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a specialization in Toxicology. 

While pursuing her graduate degrees, Dr. Placido-Weber was a teaching and doctoral fellow, which she cites as one of the most rewarding experiences of her professional career. As a graduate student, she was actively involved in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the Society of Toxicology, as well as the Society of Toxicology. She enjoys mentoring junior scientists in toxicology as she helps them achieve their career goals.  

In her current role, Dr. Placido-Weber is responsible for the extraction of postmortem and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) biological samples for screening and confirmation of licit and illicit drugs, as well as ethanol quantitation. She is highly proficient in analytical methods of analysis, such as Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) and Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS). 

Prior to working for Westchester County, Dr. Placido-Weber was previously employed by Revlon Consumer Products Corporation as a Toxicologist. She performed risk assessments of cosmetic raw materials and final formulations, reviewed clinical data of safety-in-use studies, and contributed to the international product registration of cosmetic products. She was also a liaison between Product Development and the Product Safety teams, speaking to her ability to collaborate successfully toward common goals. 


Hemlata Sukhija headshot

Hemlata Sukhija ’03B.Pharm., ’07GP, ’11Ph.D.

Lead of Regulatory Affairs 
City of Hope, Duarte, CA

Dr. Sukhija is the Lead of Regulatory Affairs within the clinical trials office at the City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. She is a registered pharmacist, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of Mumbai in India and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from St. John’s University.

Dr. Sukhija is also a SOCRA certified Clinical Research Associate. She has a broad background in the pharmacology of drugs and medicinal sciences, with specific training and expertise in key research areas of pediatric cancer clinical research. During her career, she has worked for Charles R. Drew University, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and most recently, City of Hope, in field of clinical research since 2011 at different capacities. She has experience in working over thousands of clinical trials, including studies conducted by consortia, sponsors, and in-house investigators.

She has also collaborated with investigators on grant applications and Institutional Review Board (IRB) submissions at both the clinical and bench research levels. Dr. Sukhija has expertise in US Food and Drug Administration submissions for investigational new drug studies, and provides guidance for the submission of studies to the IRB.