On February 4, 2023, the Governor’s STEM Scholars partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) for a deep dive into the pharmaceutical industry and drug development in New Jersey through a tour of BMS’s Summit site.
More than 40 Scholars, along with their parents learned about the career journeys of numerous BMS scientists and professionals including Sugandha Gupta, MS (Senior Director, Enabling Functions, IT), Lauren Lewis, Ph.D. (Senior Project Toxicologist, Non-Clinical Development), Miguel Meta, Ph.D. (Senior Scientist, Translational Early Development), Gregory Keil, MS (Associate Director, Upstream Process Development, Biologics Development, Humberto Vega-Marcado, Ph.D. (Executive Director, GMS&T Global Head of Cell Therapy, CTDO Manufacturing Sciences & Technical Organization), and Michael Schmidt, Ph.D. (Scientific Director, Chemical Process Development). The professionals imparted wisdom about navigating college research, to finding mentors, and more. Joanne Cullinane (Director, Occupational Health & Safety) provided a safety instruction in preparation to explore the BMS facility. The event organizer, Rowena Choudrie, MS (Senior Director, CMC Leadership) then served as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the morning program.
Scholars were then split into groups to explore BMS’s Summit site and learn about the drug development process. Scholars learned from professionals in analytical dissolution, chemical process, and drug product development labs. The Scholars learned how BMS is using virtual reality to train employees in laboratory safety and the future of technology in drug development. Additionally, the Scholars got to meet with the morning speakers one-on-one to discuss their research at BMS.
A big thanks to the Bristol Myers Squibb’s team, who have been long-term partners of the Governor’s STEM Scholars. The company has not only supported the organization financially, but their employees have served as real thought partners by providing mentoring opportunities for the Scholars, programmatic support, and much more. Regarding the Bristol Myers Squibb tour, one Scholar stated that “the in-depth explanations and visuals of what the drug development process looks like really helped me understand what the process of making a drug is like. Seeing all the lab technology and all the components and groups involved in putting a new drug into the marketplace was also really inspiring. I had never realized that drug development involves quite a lot of trial and error.”