Brianne BroughtonUW Master’s of Pharmaceutical Bioengineering (PharBE) program alumna, Brianne Broughton, graduated in 2015. Since 2021, Brianne has been working for AGC Biologics as a quality assurance scientist at the Longmont, Colo. location. With 11 years of experience in the biotech industry, she is currently responsible for quality control procedures, supporting lab investigations, process improvement and implementing solutions when there is a problem.
Brianne worked for Amgen as a site technician when she started in the program. She was promoted to chemical senior site specialist nine months later. As she moved through the industry, she pursued a role in the quality assurance area in 2017 as a quality engineer for Suez Water Technologies and Solutions in Colorado and has continued to work in quality since.
She took time to talk with UW BioE about her role and her experience in the PharBE program. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What do enjoy about your current work?
I’m a quality assurance scientist that supports the QC (Quality Control) group, so, if they run into an issue within the lab my role is to help them work through that issue to determine if we need a deviation or an investigation. I enjoy the collaborative team effort, not just with QC but my quality assurance team as well. I genuinely love working with people. I work with an amazing quality team – everyone is brilliant, and we work really well together.
I love science, and I don’t think we grow up thinking, ‘yeah, I want to be a quality engineer.’ It wasn’t a role I was aware of when I was working on my degree. I never understood the extent of what quality assurance was, until certain aspects of quality were introduced to me in PharBE.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on.
At the Longmont AGC site a lot of the current projects are focused on getting everything up and running so we can onboard new clients. It’s very exciting. The site’s capabilities include viral vector development, characterization and manufacturing in adherent and suspension environments, so we’ve been working on all the specifics to get it ready for drug product manufacturing. Even the simplest things like refrigerators and freezers all require extensive validation efforts. We have to make sure all of these systems are in place, and that we have quality processes in place for things like training, investigations and documentation.
What was your favorite PharBE class?
Pharmaceutics II. We went over new drug applications and biologics license applications. Being able to see that process from start to finish has been really helpful. PharBE really equipped me with understanding what GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) looked like, what GDP (Good Documentation Practices) looked like, because from what I recall we had a lab course where we would do some lab testing. That helped with pipetting skills and understanding GLP requirements. I’m a biologist by nature, so the pathophysiology class was fun – I love anatomy and physiology.
What drew you to the PharBE program?
I fell in love with biology while doing my undergraduate degree at the University of Northern Colorado. I was working at the Amgen Seattle site and at the time I found the PharBE program I wanted to continue to advance my career, but I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go – lab research or something more related to regulatory. PharBE allowed me to learn about both. I thought the program gave me the perfect opportunity to [advance my career in science] while I continued to work. It provided a lot of flexibility with my schedule. All of the professors that were listed online were highly knowledgeable and great mentors that I wanted to learn from. Mark Minie and Robbie Wong are absolutely brilliant. They allowed room for creativity and growth while also imparting their knowledge.
How did the PharBE program help your career?
PharBE gave me the tools to explore the side of the biotech and pharma industry that I wasn’t aware existed. We had classes on what FDA (Food and Drug Administration) expectations were and what process development looked like; what FDA and ICH (International Conference on Harmonization) guidelines entailed. Those classes were really helpful as I found my way into the quality world. Working as a QA scientist, we have to be aware of an incredible number of regulations by several organizations, not just the FDA.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have two dogs and a cat that I take the to the park or camping when the weather allows for it. I currently live in Colorado, so I like to get outside, when possible, especially in summer to go hiking. I’m also an artist. I draw and paint in my spare time. I have illustrated a couple of books. I also try to do the usual things like spending time with family and friends.
Read more about the PharBE program and PharBE alumni.