Hi. My name is Lisa and I work as part of the Materials Characterisations team at Teva's Waterford site.
We’re working on the front end of drug development... We look at the substances that are going into inhalers and we assess their chemical properties. Our work involves the characterisation of the substances going into inhalers (active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients). This offers insight into material properties, such as particle size, surface area and amorphous content, which can influence finished product performance. We’ve got quite a big Materials Characterisation lab here at Teva in Waterford, which we use to assess the physicochemical properties of our materials.
A lot of my family members have asthma... So, it’s actually quite interesting for them to learn about the drugs they’re taking and how it works. I really try to explain to them that they’re inhaling a drug which is made up of many different materials and components. It’s part of my job to assess the properties of those materials and make sure they are what they’re supposed to be during development of a new product; if not, you’re not going to have an effective inhaler product.
We're always searching for answers.... I’m working in the research and development side of things so a lot of the projects we’re working on at the moment involve generic drugs and trying to match the branded drugs that are on the market. We’ll bring them in, assess them and try to figure out what types of materials are in them and assess their physicochemical properties. We then need to match the dosage, safety, stability and performance in order to have a generic product.
We’re well equipped to carry out our jobs... On my first day, I was given a tour of the labs and just seeing the amount of equipment they had was insane, I was so surprised. They’re really well kitted out and everything is thoroughly maintained and efficiently run.
I’ve always enjoyed science, ever since I was a student... I was much better at science in school than any of my other subjects and really enjoyed Chemistry, which I was always pretty good at. I studied science at the University College Dublin where I also undertook my PhD in Chemistry. When searching for a new role a year ago, I’d heard lots of good things about Teva and knew a few people there who were enjoying it. So, for me, it was an easy decision to join.
Multi-tasking and problem-solving are big parts of my role... We have a large number of active projects, all of which we provide materials characterisation support to. From the characterisation side we’ll prioritise work based on the most important projects and which submission is closer, We’ll write out protocols for testing, carry out testing and compile the data into large data bases in order to generate appropriate profiles for the data and present the results and recommendations to the wider teams. We’re also responsible for the risk assessment of the materials used in the products and trying to identify any gaps that we may have in terms of testing. We then propose plans on how to mitigate against these risks in order to avoid issues during submission of a product. Additionally we have students that we supervise so we have to manage quite a busy schedule.
There’s a real gender equality here at Teva... Compared to my previous jobs, there’s certainly a lot more women working in science and engineering roles at Teva; even in the last few months a lot more women have joined my office which is great to see. In the higher ranks of the company too, I can see there are plenty of females working in different roles which I find really aspiring.
In my Teva career so far... I’m really proud of the opportunities I’ve had to present my work to senior figures within the company and share the plans we have for different projects.
My advice to a student wanting to get into this field would be… Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When I was in college, I was quite shy and didn’t ask as many questions as I should have. There’s actually no such thing as a stupid question, so keep asking and learn as much as you can about APIs, excipients and pieces of equipment and how they’re applicable to the pharmaceutical industry.
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