Passion for Vaccines
Trisha Novy ’05 chose a career helping to work on public healthcare advances — supporting vaccine education for COVID-19 and more recently Hepatitis B.
As the vice president of medical affairs at Dynavax, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing vaccines for infectious diseases, Novy communicates information about disease areas and products to physicians and pharmacists.
This year, she was named one of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s rising stars, an award that recognizes women in health care who have demonstrated noteworthy achievements and attention to furthering their careers.
“I was really drawn to Dynavax’s vision and values-driven culture of doing the right thing,” said Novy. “I’m really lucky to leverage my passion — vaccines — to do it.”
Before entering the world of pharmaceuticals, Novy experimented with multiple career paths from marine biology to textile design. With the fast nature of UC Davis’ quarter system, Novy said she was able to try out many different classes in various fields of study. After a few quarters, she ultimately declared a biology major with a microbiology and immunology sub-focus.
“The best thing about the quarter system is that you get to try a lot of new things,” Novy explained. “That was a real testament of UC Davis working for me.”
After graduating from UC Davis, Novy was accepted into Duke University as a part of its first all-female Ph.D. class for immunology. She went on to hold various roles in the pharmaceutical industry, including one as the senior director of Medical Affairs at Moderna. There, she worked to be part of the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that health care providers had what they needed to discuss vaccine information with the public.
“Understanding the limitations of our health care system was really eye-opening,” she said. “It helped us to address a lot of problems.”
Now at Dynavax, in addition to her medical affairs duties, Novy also acts as a mentor and coach to several team members, helping them to advance professionally. The power of coaching is something she believes very strongly in, as she mentioned it was a large part of how far she’s come in the pharmaceutical industry today.
“I think that one of the greatest gifts to give to someone is to share and help them navigate whatever challenges they’re facing,” Novy said. “People who have asked me the right questions at the right time have really helped me to shape my own career.”
Ultimately, Novy said she believes that her ability to be open-minded has led her to where she is today. She advises people to try new things when they can.
“If you think you want to try something, try it,” Novy emphasized. “See what it would take, and either it sticks or it doesn’t. No harm in the process of elimination.”