At Sanofi Pasteur, Dr. Kim works as a Scientist in the
Analytical Research and Development Department,
where she leads safety test development and validation
for the New Vaccine pipeline (pre-clinical through
to Phase 3). Some of her responsibilities include
writing reports, managing budgets, participating in
the compilation of regulatory dossiers, spending time
in the lab, and interacting with external operations,
procurement, and the legal team.
One of the main differences Dr. Kim has found
between the industry and academia is the stringency of
deadlines. Once her team gets permission to work on
a new project, they can develop the necessary tests for
the product. Their deadline is set right from the start,
and by the deadline, they need to have completed the
necessary tasks. For example, they may require validated
assays in place that can be performed to release clinical
trial material. To meet the deadlines, it is important
to plan realistically, have excellent time management
skills, and to know when to ask for help. Having these
strict due dates also emphasizes the importance of clear
communication within the team – both locally and
globally, since delays can be quite costly.
In a job like hers, and with similar jobs in the industry,
one cannot get too attached to a project, because
it can get dropped or changed dramatically at any
time, depending on business needs. As a result, it is
important to be adaptable to change, and to understand
that despite interesting findings that might come about
during their research, unlike in academia, researchers
will often need to curb their intellectual curiosity. The
ultimate goal is to release material for clinical trials, and
regulations (locally and globally) dictate what assays
are required, which does not leave time or resources for
continual exploration, particularly in her department.
Pursuing a career in the industry is one that Dr.
Kim knows was the best choice for her. She values the
significant contributions to science made in academia but
found the opportunities available in the industry to be the
right fit. The choice between academia and the industry is
one that many scientists will have to make, but whichever
direction is pursued, it is a personal decision, and one that
can only be made with time, research, and exposure to
both academia and the industry. Regardless of the path, it
is possible to have a career you enjoy, achieve a work-life
balance, all while making a difference.
Continued from previous page
more of an emphasis on writing skills and lab work. She adamantly states, “The ability to express ideas through
writing is essential for any student, particularly those who choose science as a future career”.
To sum up her feelings towards her job, Dr. Charlton states, “Overall, I find the job very rewarding. I really
like that it is always changing; you never know what emerging disease will come next”. Now, I’m sure most
people wouldn’t talk about emerging diseases with such intrigue but, for a scientist it is the unknown that is
most stimulating. Without people like Dr. Charlton, who have such a passion for this type of work, we would
be woefully ill-prepared to combat the threat that diseases pose to society.
If you feel overwhelmed just reading about all the responsibility that Dr. Charlton has, you’re not the only
one. As she explains, “It is sometimes difficult to maintain a good work/life balance, particularly as I am
often on call for clinical service”. To alleviate this stress, she is mindful not to allow work duties to creep into
her time off work. In order to stay educated on recent literature she has to schedule around her daily life to
incorporate time for reading. Success is possible however, so long as one has a definitive goal. Dr. Charlton’s
advice to up and coming biochemists, “Entering graduate school with a definite career goal in mind will help
you tailor your education to help achieve that goal”. So my fellow students, keep your eyes on the prize and hit
the books. Class dismissed.
Continued from page 37
Zafrin Islam, 4th-year BDC, interviews and reports | Melissa Kim
alumni update (continued)