+ Manufacturing of antibodies
+ In vitro
+ Project management
Which department do you work in?
I am in charge of the in vitro and purification departments for Bioproducts (BPS). We are a contract manufacturer of antibodies and other secreted proteins that can be used in many applications; from basic research and food safety to identification of diseases/metabolic irregularities in both humans and animals. We work with most major diagnostic companies, and with all levels, from individual researchers and product managers through to production planners.
What are your individual responsibilities?
My job is to make sure that we can make products that meet our customers’ needs. As a manager of both the in vitro and purification departments, I am involved in the early stage discussions with the customer on what they need and how we can help them achieve their goals. As we move through the process, I assist in the production of the material through production and purification. In my role, I oversee quality control, in vitro production and purification. This allows me to see every stage of a project, from inception all the way through to completion. It also enables me to work closely with the customer, along with sales and marketing, to understand where exactly they want to go with their project.
How long have you worked at Envigo?
I’ve been with Envigo for 19 years, all based in Madison, Wisconsin.
What are the best parts of your job?
The antibodies we make have a direct impact on the quality of an individual’s health and well-being. We make antibodies for laboratory tests that help to diagnose diseases and metabolic disorders, ensure food safety and acquire a basic understanding of the world around us. Some customers know exactly what they want, while others need our help defining what they want and how they are going to get there. Our customers range from individual researchers in academia to large drug development teams or government agencies. As you can imagine, their needs are as varied as the projects.
What is an absolute ‘must have’ in your role?
I have been growing cells for over 40 years. During that time, I have grown literally thousands of different kinds and species of cells. Should the cells not grow as expected during a study, I have the experience to work through the issues and determine what will make the cells perform in a way that meets the customer’s needs.
It is important to be flexible. The nature of working with biological systems means they don’t always go down the same path. Being able to adjust to any unexpected curve balls and still make a product that meets our customer’s needs is crucial.
A big part of my job involves education. Although hollow fiber has been around for over 30 years, most people still do not know about it. I make it part of my job to educate the customer on the process and how it will work in their favor. This fosters trust with our customer that we are looking out for their best interests, and the best interests of their final product.
Tell us about some of your achievements.
We worked on a project that was intended to show traumatic brain injury either on the battle field, from sports injuries, or auto accidents. We made great progress stabilizing a cell line and optimizing it for production. Another project I am especially proud of is the work everyone at BPS did for a cancer research institute. We manufactured an antibody in vivo that was injected into children with a rhabdomyosarcoma brain tumor. During the time of our collaboration several children were treated with this antibody and experienced a significantly increased survival rate. We worked for several years making the antibody in vivo, while trying to adapt the cells to a serum free media in vitro.
I was always interested in science, but initially wanted to be a college biology professor. An introductory microbiology course set my current path in motion. My concentration was in virology, until my first job out of college. I was initially hired as a virologist, but as the lab was needed for a project that was running over timelines and budget, I was asked if I would help by doing hybridoma development. The more I got into making antibodies, the more I liked it. As a result, I was on the ground floor of hollow fiber technology, and this has been my passion for the last 25 years.
What do you like doing outside work?
Madison has a great blend of things to do and is a wonderful place to live. During the warmer months, I enjoy biking on the many rural roads and trails. In the winter months, I like downhill skiing. I also enjoy traveling and exploring new cultures. When traveling, I have found the best way to meet many of the locals is by exploring the area by bicycle rather than car. On the back roads, you meet the individuals and are not always treated like a regular tourist. I also enjoy yoga, but with limited amount of time devoted to its exploration, I know that I lose internal focus easily!
If you have a question for Richard, or you are interested in learning more about our pharmaceutical development capabilities, please contact us.