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Meet the Scientists: Program Execution

In this installment of our Meet the Scientist series, we asked several members from various areas of our Program Execution Department of SEKISUI XenoTech’s Scientific Operations, to share some insights into how their team operates.

“We are a contract research organization where customer deadlines for regulatory submission are paramount, so scheduling studies and sharing responsibilities is a big part of what we do. We have a distinct focus on training with a mindset to always improve our performance, all of which feeds into better data output for our customers. There is a lot of teamwork within our department, and across departments as well, which creates a kind of process life cycle with ongoing feedback that helps us get better results more efficiently,” explained Melissa Evans, Enzyme Incubation Team Lead.

She continued, “LCMS instruments are used to analyze samples and provide information to clients about their potential drugs. We run a variety of assays for enzyme induction, drug metabolism, drug inhibition, metabolite characterization, plasma protein binding, red blood cell partitioning and drug transport studies. We use the Tecan to automate many assay processes, including incubations, then we process and review our data to provide high quality results to clients.”

Melissa Evans, Enzyme Incubation Team Lead

How do we make improvements in our operations?
Leah Logan, Scientist II, shared: “In the case of experimental designs we’ve never worked with before, I strive to further bridge the gap between business, our clients and science. This often comes down to better communication and analyzing beforehand whether we will need to run R&D on a particular project. In this way, I focus on finding lapses in efficiency and fixing them. For example, I’ve created electronic paperwork templates that cut down time significantly—sometimes from multiple hours to just twenty minutes. In the future, I’m hoping we can have training sessions between our clients and sales representatives, and perhaps provide video content to make sure all parties are on the same page. Knowing our business inside-and-out and being able to educate individuals on both sides contributes to greater productivity in our operations.”

Leah Logan, Enzyme Incubations Scientist II

How do we boost teamwork?
Cody Hendren, Scientist II, responded: “Across our cell culture, incubation, pre-team and bioassay teams, we work together to maintain the lab, perform scheduled experiments and verify and process data. We always look for people that are accountable, focused on efficiency and quality driven, since clear communications and a sense of responsibility are necessary to keep things running smoothly as a team. Aside from regular meetings to discuss efficiency improvements, we make sure action items are implemented right away. Our electronic data collection initiatives, including automated assay templates for each team, will also greatly contribute to further efficiency. In my mind, an ideal team should be fully trained across all assays, with everyone responsible for their individual assays but also willing to check on others and help them as much as possible.”

Cody Hendren, Enzyme Incubations Scientist II

What do you enjoy about your job, and in what way is it rewarding for you?
Nathan Stucky, Scientist I, explained: “Science is a growing field and the potential for improvement keeps me motivated. I feel that people appreciate our work in making sure that pharmaceutical compounds are safe for public consumption. If something is miscalculated or mis-pipetted and it ends up passing a check, there is the possibility for real damage—legal, financial and physical. So it’s very important to maintain a sense of accountability. Personally, the confidence I’ve gained in running assays, finding a rhythm and becoming more comfortable with myself is very rewarding. It means a lot to contribute to the work at SEKISUI XenoTech and I’m honored to be here.”

Nathan Stucky, Enzyme Incubation Scientist I

Learn more about the capabilities of our scientific operations team or meet more members of the SEKISUI XenoTech team

About the Authors

Michael Millhollen received his bachelor's degree in Visual Communications from the University of Kansas and has over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications. As Global Marketing Manager, he is dedicated to the objective of sharing SEKISUI XenoTech’s scientific expertise and knowledge with scientists around the world.

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