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Career Story: Director Of Analytical Chemistry At A Pharmaceutical Company

Director Of Analytical Chemistry At A Pharmaceutical Company

Job Title: Director Analytical Chemistry

Type of Company: I work for a mid-sized pharmaceutical company.

Education: BS, East Central University •• Ph.D., University of North Texas

Previous Experience: I started as a research laboratory chemist for a large pharmaceutical company. While in the laboratory, I moved into laboratory management as well as project management. These roles eventually led to my promotion to director.

Job Tasks: Our research and development activities are described as "virtual" -- meaning that, instead of having our own research laboratories, we use contract research facilities to complete the required development work to bring a drug to the market place. My job is to oversee all of the analytical chemistry associated with the research and development of drugs we are developing for the commercial marketplace.

These activities include determining which ingredients should used to develop the drug; setting the minimum requirements the ingredients must meet in order to be used in a drug formulation ; determining how to make the drug formulation deliver the correct amount of active ingredient when given to patients, how to make the drug formulation stable over 24 to 36 months, what are indicators that something is not working in the drug formulation, etc.; developing and validating test procedures to test the drug formulations and ingredients to ensure the drug formulation is acceptable to use in humans ; determining and setting specifications that the drug formulation must meet in order to remain effective over the life of the drug (drug expiry); and ensuring all of the above is transferred to a commercial manufacturing site so the drug formulation can be successfully manufactured, packaged and sold in the United States.

In order to oversee and accomplish all of this I work with many different teams in and out of the company. I work with legal, medical affairs, regulatory, manufacturing, packaging, commercial operations, and many outside vendors. It is really very exciting and rewarding to bring needed medicines to the market place to help people.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is knowing that I am bringing medicines to the market place that will eventually help many patients both with life issues as well as quality of life issues.

The worst part of my job is dealing with the stress associated with failures encountered during the drug development process. I try to look at failures as mini-accomplishments: we learn something with each failure that we can apply to another drug development project.

Job Tips: Chemistry and biology course work is extremely important to a research scientist. I also would recommend an advanced degree in your field of choice.

Additional Thoughts: I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry but I believe a marketing or business degree would be very beneficial as well, since I frequently deal with budgets, invoices, financial forecasting, resource constraints and management of people.

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