A Day In The Life

Learn more about some of our biopharmaceutical scientists.

Explore a day in the life of a biopharmaceutical scientist. Roll over the molecules below to learn how they approach their work to discover the treatments and cures that will improve patients' lives around the world. Press the play button on the molecule at the end of the string to hear from the scientists, themselves, about their day-to-day lives and how they are inspiring the next generation of biopharmaceutical scientists.
Explore a day in the life of a biopharmaceutical scientist. Roll over the molecules below to learn how they approach their work to discover the treatments and cures that will improve patients' lives around the world. Press the play button on the molecule at the end of the string to hear from the scientists, themselves, about their day-to-day lives and how they are inspiring the next generation of biopharmaceutical scientists.
Samantha Budd  Meredith Liberto  Michael Ehlers  Dowdy Jackson  Misty Vest
Michelle Seng  Olof Larsson  Sean Pintchovski  John Corbin

SAMANTHA BUDD

Vice President, Neurosciences iMed
AstraZeneca R&D

Watch Video Family Time Relax Wrap Up Management Lunch Meetings Innovating Leadership Short But Productive Split Time Split Time Short But Productive Leadership Innovating Meetings Lunch Management Wrap Up Relax Family Time

SAMANTHA BUDD

Vice President, Neurosciences iMed
AstraZeneca R&D

Samantha Budd

Split Time
I am in our office in Cambridge MA about 75% of my time and I’ll describe a typical day below. Another 25% of the time I am out in the four corners of the world to meet scientists, clinicians and other organizations involved in Alzheimer’s disease research either at conferences or other expert meetings or in their own labs. We discuss research advances, look at new technologies, and discuss aspects of programs that we work on or that we collaborate on.

Short But Productive
My drive to work is only 11 miles and I’m in the office by 7:30 or 8:15am. This year most Thursdays I’ve had a 7am call with my AstraZeneca colleagues in Japan. If I’m not on a conference call, I enjoy listening to last nights’ Red Sox report and silly morning radio shows.

Leadership
The research and development of new medicines never has a dull moment. It’s always stretching and stimulating the brain. I get to lead a team of the most incredible people – hugely intelligent, motivated and hard-working and representing a very broad range of skills in biomedical science. When you get such a complex group operating to their best potential it’s very exciting.

Innovating
I am motivated by the challenge, the complexity and the intellectual powerhouse we need to bring to make the breakthroughs and what they can mean for patients’ lives. Success for me is bringing forward a new treatment to help patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s such a huge goal, one of the most complicated diseases you can think of. The intensity of the problem solving in neuroscience is really motivating.

Meetings
During the day I have a mixture of meetings with team members and time by myself to read and work on the components of the project I lead.

Lunch
Lunch is often pizza or Chinese food called in to our meetings. The best days are when I can meet with someone in the Cambridge area for lunch. Cambridge has a lot of great food places and a lot of researchers in a very small area.

Management
I also spend time with my direct reports, hearing updates, helping think through scientific or organizational questions. That often ends by suggesting they talk with one or other expert!

Wrap Up
My day ends at 6 or 8 depending if I was the one dropping off the kids. If I have an idea kicking around my head or a deadline coming up I will keep working on it after dinner and when the kids are in bed.

Relax
Running is great. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you can run pretty much anywhere and you don’t have to depend on anyone other than yourself to do it. I find running pretty relaxing… challenging, but relaxing. It has become a cornerstone of de-stressing.

Family Time
I also watch my boys play soccer, and watch movies with them (we’re going through all the cool classics like Back to the Future, Forest Gump).


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MEREDITH LIBERTO

Research Scientist
Boehringer Ingleheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Watch Video Travel Bug 9-10pm Relax 5:30-8pm Study Up 4:45 Gym Pople-Focused 2pm-4pm Multitask 12pm Reboot Cell Transfection 8am Getting Started 6:30am Morning 6:30am Morning 8am Getting Started Cell Transfection 12pm Reboot 2pm-4pm Multitask Pople-Focused 4:45 Gym 5:30-8pm Study Up 9-10pm Relax Travel Bug

MEREDITH LIBERTO

Research Scientist
Boehringer Ingleheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Samantha Budd

6:30am
Wake up/shower/pack lunch/eat breakfast

8am
Setup my computer/check emails/begin planning experiments and daily activities/thaw samples

Cell Transfection
The coolest science technology that I get to play with everyday is cell transfection. Transfections allow us to force a cell to express a receptor or protein of interest. The cell is “shocked” with an electrical current, causing the plasma membrane to open and take-up DNA that codes for the protein we want the cell to express. The cell then incorporates the DNA into its machinery, and becomes a powerhouse for expressing a receptor or making a protein. My job also requires a lot of instrument use and automation.

12pm
30 minute yoga class and a working lunch.

2pm-4pm
During this time period, I run experiments, analyze data and complete notebook documentation. The most surprising aspect about my job is the amount of multi-tasking and preparations needed to design and execute an experiment. Once a project team or lab manager requests an experiment to be run, I automatically go into planning mode: making sure reagents are ordered and experimental components (cells, signups for instruments, etc.) are coordinated appropriately.

Also, sometimes 3 to 4 experiments need to be run in a single day. This requires staggering the experiments so time points do not overlap; having multiple lab timers; and wearing really comfortable (closed toe) walking shoes.

People-Focused
As a scientist, I think it’s easy to get discouraged when a large % of experiments fail to give you the information you were looking for, but at the end of the day, when you strip everything else away, I am working on developing therapeutics that could improve quality of life for people with life-threatening diseases. When you put a human face to the disease, it puts drug discovery into perspective. I always feel most inspired after speaking with patients and their advocates. Hearing about their struggles and challenges or how much a therapy has helped improve their quality of life is both motivating and inspiring.

4:45pm
I don’t have much free time between work and school; however, to unwind I enjoy working out at the gym, which includes jogging, yoga, and spin classes.

5:30-8pm
Class for graduate school/homework in the form of a paper, group project, or exam preparation

9pm to 10pm
Relax with a good book or catching up on TV. My favorite shows are Big Bang Theory, Grey’sAnatomy, and the Good Wife.

Travel Bug
Traveling is another outlet for my curiosity. Within the last few years, I have been bitten by the travel bug! Every summer, I try to save and plan one big international trip, but even a domestic trip, like to New York City can be a big adventure.


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MICHAEL EHLERS

SVP, Chief Scientific Officer for Neuroscience
Pfizer

Watch Video Music Man 6:30-8:30pm Family Time Full Day Team Work Never Dull 7:40am Scoot 6:15am Tune In 6:15am Tune In 7:40am Scoot Never Dull Team Work Full Day 6:30-8:30pm Family Time Music Man

MICHAEL EHLERS

SVP, Chief Scientific Officer for Neuroscience
Pfizer

Samantha Budd

6:15am
I wake up, check the weather forecast, and listen to Radio France or Radio Nacional de España while getting ready. By 7am, the rest of the family is usually up and I am making coffee, breakfast for the kids, and/or packing lunches. If time permits, I have a coffee while reading the Boston Globe.

7:40am
Off to work and the lab in Cambridge. These days, I usually take my scooter (fastest way through Boston!) unless it is too cold in which case I use the T.

Never Dull
Science is always full of surprises. Unexpected findings occur all the time and half of my job is recognizing new areas of opportunity and making decisions around the most promising next experiment.

I find that the lab is really a fun place to be. I love new data. I love the challenge of synthesizing fields to make an observation that no one has made before. I also really enjoy the colleagues that I work with. Enthusiasm for scientific discovery can be infectious.

Team Work
I am awestruck about how much has to come together from multiple disciplines to make a new medicine. It is a miracle of sorts that we are able to do this.

Full Day
My day is filled with many varied activities that can include any of the following:

  • Lab meetings, reviewing data, planning experiments
  • Advising postdoctoral fellows and junior scientists in the lab
  • Meetings with my multidisciplinary neuroscience R&D team to review drug discovery projects, determine experimental approaches, map out clinical development plans, select new targets, design preclinical experiments, and assess progress in everything from medicinal chemistry to drug safety studies to the clinical portfolio
  • Write data reports, manuscripts
  • Review opportunities for licensing or biotech acquisition
  • Engage stakeholders across the pharmaceutical industry, academic researchers, patient advocacy groups, government.

6:30-8:30pm
I’m a father of three and really enjoy spending time with my family. I help them with their homework and we often read together. I like to introduce the kids to nature, outdoors and other fun science things.

Music Man
Whenever I have the chance, I play the piano. There was a time when I thought I might end up being a professional musician. I played rather competitively.


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DOWDY JACKSON, PhD

ADC Biology Group Leader
Agensys

Watch Video Soar Evaluate Motivation Hope Inspiration Family Time Spin Spin Family Time Inspiration Hope Motivation Evaluate Soar

DOWDY JACKSON, PhD

ADC Biology Group Leader
Agensys

Dowdy Jackson

5am
Wake up and get myself ready to go to my spin class on Tuesday and Thursday. Monday and Saturday go to the gym or workout at home.

8:30 am
Leave for work and make sure my son is up and getting ready for his day. I really enjoy spending time with my family. I am a single father and I have sole custody of my son who is now 18 years old and will be starting college in the fall.

Inspiration
My parents grew up in the segregated south and experienced a lot of hardships that have inspired me to be who I am today. They always instilled in my sister and me the importance of a good work ethic and emphasized the importance of education.

I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in science. There’s nothing else that I’d rather be doing with my career. There is always that hope that the drug that you are working on will allow a cancer patient to spend more time with their families.

Hope
I lead our Antibody Drug Conjugate (ADC) Biology group where we evaluate new ADC technologies, lead new ADC projects and support current ADC projects. The thing that makes me come to work every day is the hope that we will make an impact on the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Motivation
I’m motivated by the potential of what we’re doing – the hope that we can develop new technologies and identify better targets that can improve our clinical successes and in turn people’s lives. At Agensys, we have an entrepreneurial spirit, which allows for more creative thinking to come up with novel and hopefully better ways to solve problems.

Evaluate
At the end of the day, I always take time to evaluate my progress. Did I do my best at work today? Did I make a contribution to my group, my direct reports and the teams I support?

Soar
I have a few hobbies that help me unwind/de-stress. I like to fly airplanes - single engine planes and gliders to be precise. Flying really appeals to my sense of adventure. It allows me to look at things differently, with new perspective, in my personal life in addition to in the lab. In addition to flying planes, I am also a PADI certified scuba diver and I play the alto saxophone.


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MISTY VEST

Principle Research Associate
Agensys

Watch Video Horseback Riding Exercise My Husband, My Hero Homeward Bound Big Picture Collaborate Lab Time Early Start Early Start Lab Time Collaborate Big Picture Homeward Bound My Husband, My Hero Exercise Horseback Riding

MISTY VEST

Principle Research Associate
Agensys

Misty Vest

7am
I get to work early because I do my best work in the morning and want to avoid traffic. I like to settle into my day by eating a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and a cup of coffee. I check and respond to emails for about an hour and then off to the lab I go to cure cancer!

8am - noon
To get started, I usually restock lab items, refill reagents, and disinfect all the items I will be using around cells. I start my preliminary work for the day around 9: counting cells, warming the growth medium to 37˚C to keep the cells nice and happy and gathering all the materials I will need that day if I have a major experiment.

1pm - 4pm
This is usually where the nitty gritty of the job gets done. If it is a small experiment, I can usually handle it solo, but when I need antibodies produced more quickly, I work with the RAP group.

Big Picture
I often think about how the work, really, never ends. Research is exactly what it means: the search for answers over and over again until you find exactly the desired outcome. There are so many questions out there but there are also so many answers that, with help, can and will be answered with hard work, teamwork and patience.

5pm to 6pm
Sometimes I pick my girls up from school and sometimes my husband has already done this and everyone is home. I enjoy this time the most, because it is like a homecoming every day!

6pm – 8pm
My husband is a good cook and 80% of the time already has dinner ready when I get home! We try to have dinner together with our two girls most nights because we feel this is an important time to talk about everyone’s day.

8pm to 10pm

This is the time I have to myself. During the summer, I take my dog(s) for a run on the trails behind our community in the Topanga State Park. During the winter, I’m usually confined indoors to a treadmill or stationary bike, but exercise is exercise to me no matter where it comes from! The dogs also know how to run on the treadmill so they get their exercise too.

Horseback Riding
Riding horses is my ultimate hobby. The world seems better on the back of a horse. I started riding at nine years old and have loved it ever since. At the end of a tough week, it’s nice to go up and pet a horse. It’s very relaxing. There’s a lot of trust and team work that’s involved… just like there is in the lab.


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MICHELLE SENG

Scientist
EMD Serono

Watch Video Recharge Eat Listen Progress Analysis Exercise Lab Time Lunch Routine Prepare Smoothie 6am Smoothie 9am Prepare 10am Routine 11:30am Lunch Time 12pm Lab Time 2pm Exercise 2:30pm Analysis 4pm Progress 5pm Listen 7pm Eat! 9pm Recharge

MICHELLE SENG

Scientist
EMD Serono

Michelle Seng

6:00 a.m.
I wake up and immediately wash/dice fruits and vegetables whilst I prepare to tackle the day. My best friend, who lives in San Diego, recently got me hooked on fruit/vegetable smoothies for breakfast so I usually ready a mug of that for the commute

8:30 a.m.
Arrive at work, greeting the security guards before I make my way to EMD Serono’s café haven

9 a.m.
Settle comfortably at my desk sift through mail and e-mails with a delicious shot of espresso. Once e-mail is sorted out, I make my way to the lab to check on any on-going experiments and cells that need tending to

10 a.m.
Seek out my manager to discuss the day’s plan plus long term goals that we can iron out immediately

10:30 a.m.
Take care of any routine work, such as tissue culture maintenance (cells, reagents, materials, etc.)

11:30 a.m.
I love our cafeteria…I usually get a hot meal consisting of vegetables and grains, plus a mug of tea, and enjoy at my desk so I can listen to music, read news on the BBC, and send a quick text to my boyfriend, Chris, to see how his day is going

12 p.m.
Lab time….usually running an assay such as an ELISA, or imaging cells. I am often in the vivarium as well to isolate materials for primary cell culture, which I take care of at this time.

2:30 p.m.
Typically data analysis, graphing, and notebook entry with an apple. I enjoy calculations and graphing very much and take this time to organize my data into comprehensive layouts

4 p.m.
Meet with my manager over coffee to discuss our data and how we will progress our project

5 p.m.
Leave the office and head home to prep dinner with Chris, during which time we chat about our day and listen to music

7 p.m.
Dinner is usually a bowl of rice with green leafy Asian vegetables and salmon, which we eat whilst watching 1-2 episodes of our favorite TV shows

8 p.m.
Clean up, and bake with Chris! We usually bake cookies, cupcakes, or bread…all gluten and dairy free

9 p.m.
Leisure time, which equates to music, art, books, Food Network, or History Channel

11p.m.
Beloved sleep.


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OLOF LARSSON, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Pain
Eli Lilly and Company

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OLOF LARSSON, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Pain
Eli Lilly and Company

Olof Larsson, Ph.D.

6:30 a.m.
I wake up and head for a cup of coffee, which is a must-have to get the day going. I eat a big breakfast and head out the door to work

7:30 a.m. - remainder of the day
I spend most days in a long session of meetings that range in topic/focus. They include: scientific (majority of meetings are scientific in nature), administrative, management, and employee development

A couple of times in the week, I go to Lilly’s on-site fitness center, called the LIFE center, where I like to run. I like to run as often as I can as it helps to clear my mind. I’m currently prepping for a mini-marathon, which will be my second half marathon in the U.S.

Most evenings I spend time with my instruments

I spend my weekends attending a variety of cultural events, from museums to music to working out. I believe that weekends are essential to “recharge” before going back to work on Monday


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SEAN PINTCHOVSKI

Senior Research Scientist
Lundbeck

Watch The Video Work It Out Huh, That's Funny Exhilaration To The Lab Radio Gear Up 7am Gear Up 8am Radio 9am To The Lab Exhilaration Huh, That's Funny Work It Out

SEAN PINTCHOVSKI

Senior Research Scientist
Lundbeck

Sean Pintchovski

7 am
I wake up at 7am to make my coffee (dark espresso roast, black –no sugar or milk!). I usually take a few moments to quiet my mind while sipping on my coffee before gearing up for the day.

8 am
Head out to work around 8am, listening to the news or one of my favorite podcasts (fun stories from ‘RadioLab’ and ‘This American Life’ are the best) in the car.

9 a.m. - remainder of the day
I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “typical” day when you work in science, and especially when in the lab – that’s part of what keeps things interesting. Some days are very busy with running around from one instrument to another in the lab, and some days are spent reading at your desk and thinking about the questions I am trying to answer, and how to design the best experiment for the next day. Some days are a mix of lab time, reading, and meetings with others to share ideas. My day at work usually ends around 6pm or so – experiments can be long sometimes

What surprises me most is how much we still don’t know about how the human body, and in the case of my work, how the human brain functions! One of my favorite quotes is: “If the brain were simple enough for us to understand, we’d be too simple to understand the brain.” On any given day, there’s the possibility that I may be the very first person to learn and understand how something in the brain works. That’s an exhilarating and rare feeling! The fact that we’re also trying to link the biology we learn to a disease, and that this may in turn lead to improving the quality of life for others, is a great motivator.

At the end of the day there is rarely that EUREKA! moment you see in the movies, but I do feel successful when I can come away with a smaller, usually unexpected bit of insight, knowing that I’ve moved one step closer to understanding the biology of the human body and hopefully to being one step closer to helping those suffering from disease. Curiosity is what drives science. One of my favorite quotes is: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'Huh, that's funny...” from Isaac Isamov, the acclaimed science fiction writer, which is to say that the most unexpected, most surprising results are typically the most interesting and important.

Exercise is a must for me and I usually go to the gym right after work for either high intensity Sports Conditioning classes or for more mellow yoga classes. Oddly enough, both help me wind down from a long day!


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JOHN CORBIN

Scientist
Xoma

Watch Video Read Home Improvement Balance Write Potential Priority Lunch Development Start Climb Breakfast 7am Breakfast 8am Climb 9am Start 11am Development 12pm Lunch 1pm Priority 3pm Potential 4pm Write 6pm Balance 7pm Home Improvement 10pm Read

JOHN CORBIN

Scientist
Xoma

John Corbin

7 a.m.
I wake up, briefly check my email and eat breakfast

8 a.m.
Go to the climbing gym and crank out some routes, it is a great way to energize my body and mind for the rest of the day

9 a.m.
Start work by reading and answering critical emails

11 a.m.
I discuss ongoing activities related to drug development programs with individual project team members or research department leaders

12 p.m.
I have lunch while I discuss various science related topics with my colleagues or read scientific literature

1 p.m.
I attend project team meetings where data is reviewed and decisions are made about priorities and next steps

3 p.m.
I hold a teleconference with a scientific collaborator to discuss new data and potential development paths for a candidate drug

4 p.m.
Work with colleagues to write and prepare scientific manuscripts describing novel research on therapeutic antibodies

6 p.m.
Return home and walk with my girlfriend to a local restaurant for dinner

7 p.m.
I work on a home improvement project

10 p.m.
Read literature about recent scientific breakthroughs

11 p.m.
Follow up on any urgent matters related to work

12 a.m.
Go to sleep


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