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Brendan, Manufacturing and supply, UK

Technical Director

Brendan,  GSK employee sitting outside
Brendan, Manufacturing and supply, UK

My route from the lab to the factory

A protein scientist at heart, I followed a traditional academic route with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, followed by a PhD studying pharmaceutically active proteins from seaweed.

Did you know it’s estimated that there are nine times more microscopic algae and seaweeds in the oceans than there are plants on land, and they produce 70% of the world's oxygen?

I went on to complete a Post Doc looking at anti-nutritional proteins, which led to a position with Delta Biotechnology.

Later I joined Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) and ran a team responsible for production and scale up of recombinant proteins, formulation development, characterisation and analytical testing prior to clinical testing. 

In 2009 I made the switch from small biotech to big pharma, and joined GSK. I was blown away on a visit to Barnard Castle with the energy and passion I saw in the people there and the commitment to deliver medicines of the right quality to those that need them. This, combined with the opportunity to work in large scale manufacturing, made me want to join the team.

Getting products to patients

I really enjoy physical tasks and producing something tangible at the end, so while I loved working in R&D and found it very inspiring, the output was often just data, rather than something physical.

I now work at a factory that produces 160 million packs of medicine every year.  That’s millions of people that benefit from what I do every day – how cool is that?

In manufacturing I get to make something, for instance making thousands of vials, syringes or tubes which are used in a clinical trial, a stability study, analytical work, or distributed to patients.

Scientific input is fundamental to the success of pharmaceutical manufacturing.  We use technical excellence to deliver our products to patients in the simplest, most compliant and cost-effective way we can. 

I’m proud to say I work in a factory.  It provides some of the most stimulating scientific and technical challenges and allows me to be surrounded by smart people all pulling in the same direction - making sure the people that need it get our medicines.

From discovery to launch

Launching new products has been my biggest high at GSK. I was fortunate during my time at CAT to be part of the team to work on two molecules that are now used by GSK in the manufacture of new medicines for the treatment of lupus and anthrax.

I feel privileged to have caught up with them and to support the final step of getting them to patients. Very few molecules make it to market, so it is rare for a biotechnologist to see the process from start to finish, let alone be a part of it.

I feel very proud to have been a small part of the journey and honoured to work with so many great people over the years that have all helped to make this happen.