Hi. My name is Chris and I'm the Senior Director in Research and Development at Teva's Waterford site.
Even at university, I knew I wanted a career helping to create new medicines... As a student, I studied chemistry at Durham University – I was fascinated by how molecules contributed to the way things work. By the time I did my PhD, I wanted to apply my skills and knowledge to work in the pharmaceutical industry, bringing benefits to healthcare systems through the application of science – specifically, generating new medicines. That drove me on, and it’s something that still drives me today.
As a student, I focused on synthetic organic chemistry, which is a bit like cooking... you take a number of ingredients, mix them together, and hope that a sponge cake comes out. But sometimes something unexpected comes out of it – instead of a cake, you might get a chicken. Working out why a certain combination of things gives a surprising effect is all part of the fun.
My team are at the forefront of respiratory research in the industry... and Teva has invested heavily in cutting-edge technology. This includes automation, which allows our scientists to concentrate on analysing data and thinking about the next steps, plus many techniques to help us to understand how materials behave during manufacturing and delivery to patients. I’m responsible for the formulation and process development of all Teva’s respiratory products - for the treatment of conditions such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Problem-solving and creativity is a big part of the job in generics... A generic medicine is a medicine that’s developed to be the same as a medicine that’s already been authorised. Copying a medicine requires a totally different skillset to developing a new medicine, especially in respiratory. Lots of things change as a product evolves through its shelf life, which is a huge technical challenge. We have to find new ways to characterise materials and manufacture products. And we need to do this using equipment and machinery that’s generally more sophisticated than when the products were originally developed… perhaps 10-15 years earlier. We’re trying to replicate medicines, and that’s a huge scientific challenge. Having worked on both sides of the fence, I think it’s more difficult copying some respiratory products than developing them in the first place.
My biggest achievement since joining Teva four and a half years ago... is growing my team from 14 to 40 people. I’m proud that we’ve built an environment where people feel safe and free to take risks.
I enjoy working at Teva because... it’s a dynamic organisation and it’s different every day. My colleagues across the globe are all rolling in the same direction, and the diversity of the global team also really appeals to me. The generics industry allows me to generate high quality, life-saving medicines that are cost effective. The respiratory area is really challenging – in a good way – from a scientific perspective; we need to be smart and think about doing things in a different way. And it’s really satisfying when we solve problems and move products closer to market.
The future of respiratory medicines is really exciting... Teva is already at the forefront of digitally-enabled respiratory medicines, which is changing the way that patients interact with their medicines. We should expect to see that area enhanced and expanded in the future. I think the next big thing will be using the respiratory route to treat non-typical respiratory diseases like hypertension and Parkinson’s disease plus deliver vaccines and bio-molecules. Over the coming years, we’ll start to see medicines developed to treat other diseases not currently typically addressed through the respiratory delivery route.
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