Julian Blair

Hi. My name is Julian and I'm the Vice President in Research & Development and Head of Inhalation Product Development at Teva's Waterford site.

I grew up on a farm and wasn’t thinking about a scientific or technical career in industry. Whereas I didn’t want to follow my family into farming, I didn’t immediately identify with what later turned out to be a significant interest in science. Nevertheless, I realised I needed a career, and accordingly focussed on science subjects before finishing school and reading chemistry at university.

"Going green is the future of inhalers… "

"Propellants (the gas inside metered dose inhalers that creates the aerosol spray) generate emissions during manufacturing and patient use we are working on to reduce. Many of Teva’s inhaler products now comprise powders which avoid the use of propellants altogether. Where this transition is not possible, alternative technologies with lower cost and environmental impact are under development."

Seeing the application of science changed everything… During my degree, I was fortunate to spend a year in a Government Research Organisation near Bristol in south west England – in fact not far from where I grew up. I was allocated a project under the supervision of a well-respected leader in crop protection science where I explored the uptake and translocation of pesticides into plants.

The laboratories were well equipped and the team I worked with incredibly supportive. As such, it was a pivotal moment in my life, spiking both an interest in science, in as well as illustrating how I could unlock the talent within me to achieve fulfilment pursuing a technical career path. 

From there, I decided I wanted to do research, so commenced a PhD in investigating new applications of glass forming carbon based materials   I joined an academic team based in the University of Aberdeen specialised in novel materials research including ceramics and cements.

It was a fantastic experience, broadening my knowledge and enabling me with new skills to manage the direction of my own project. After my PhD, I decided to accept a two year research fellowship sponsored by Schott Glaswerke, where I studied the chemistry controlling colour changes in ceramics. Whereas this role was very different from where I first started, it remained true to my growing interest in understanding the world around me, solving problems we have in our present and future environment.

At this stage in my career, my experience in experimentation and materials positioned me well across a number of industries. However, it was the pharma industry, and in particular technologies designed to improve the delivery and access to medicines for patients which grabbed me most, and so, I joined a start-up biotech company based in Cambridge, England to investigate new ways to stabilise and control the delivery of vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

I have remained in the pharmaceutical industry since, building my experience, whilst at the same time specialising more so within the respiratory field. After a series of positions with small and medium sized pharma companies, I joined Teva in 2007, where my role evolved further into a more global position. 

At Waterford, we develop products to help patients with asthma and other respiratory diseases… These tend to be complex combination medicinal products comprising both a device and drug. More recently, I led the development of ground breaking new digital inhalers which now provide feedback to doctors and their patients on inhaler use, previously unavailable to them.

I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing how the facility at Waterford has grown…  Since joining Teva, we built on existing foundations to create a world class facility with a great team of people, who in combination with our technologies and processes are, in my view, unmatched elsewhere in respiratory product development. We are one of the top Teva sites, which owing to investment and growth over the last 10 years, enables our scientists to work at the forefront of their field.

People think a generics pharmaceutical company produces inferior, cheap products, but this isn’t true… Having worked on both sides, I know from experience that it’s a lot harder to figure out what’s previously been done with a branded product and replicate it while working with far newer technology, than to create a new product. We work on speciality, generic and branded medicines. There’s a lot of detective work involved.  

I’m very passionate about my career… and want to ensure everyone benefits from the same opportunities I have had, however, I also care about the wellbeing and health of our  people to ensure they balance their ambition with other interests and commitments they have outside work, and in so doing stay happy and fulfilled in their job long-term.

People don’t wear ties in Teva - even the executives… There’s a very open culture, it’s not a hierarchical organisation at all. If you’re talented, resilient and a self-starter, it offers many opportunities.  

I enjoy working with people across the globe… in an exciting new development, we have expanded into a new facility in Mumbai, India which mirrors our facility in Ireland. Teva’s diverse and inclusive culture creates fantastic opportunities to share knowledge and experience with colleagues all around the world.

Going green is the future of inhalers… Propellants (the gas inside metered dose inhalers that creates the aerosol spray) generate emissions during manufacturing and patient use we are working on to reduce. Many of Teva’s inhaler products now comprise powders which avoid the use of propellants altogether. Where this transition is not possible, alternative technologies with lower cost and environmental impact are under development.

R&D is dynamic and different every day... Waterford is a happy place, where we respect the individual and people like what they do. It’s a great place to develop your career. It’s also very rewarding as you get to see products go from inception through to the market – and then see patients benefitting from them.   

I’m proud to have developed a fantastic team of people who I really respect working with… Also, by investing in our people and technology, we’ve helped secured our future; we’ve created an invaluable asset within Teva. Although, inevitably I’m a task-oriented person, driven by achieving success with our goals, I’m always mindful of the immense responsibility and impact we have on helping our patients better manage their respiratory disease. I still learn something exciting or new every day and feel honoured to work with the team we have here in in Waterford. 

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All information and job titles were correct at time of approval
Date of preparation: October 2023
Reference: COB-IE-NP-00108 (V1.0)