Seattle native Blake Englebert completed the UW Master’s of Pharmaceutical Bioengineering (PharBE) program in 2019 and started at Seattle startup Shape Therapeutics as a scientist. He was promoted to senior scientist in 2021. Previously he worked at Halozyme Therapeutics in San Diego, Calif., as a senior research associate. Blake is focused on the lifecycle of assay development and ensuring it is implemented in a streamlined fashion. Blake shared with UW BioE his thoughts about his role and experience in the PharBE program.
What drew you to the field of bioengineering?
I have always had an interest in science, specifically biology. Pursuing a bioengineering degree allowed me to have a career where I really enjoy what I am doing. It’s an added bonus that the work we do in biotech is aligned with substantially improving people’s lives.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on.
I’m establishing a framework for analytical development. It’s the best practice approach for assay development as well as qualifying and validating them so that we can support regulatory filings including IND applications (Investigational New Drug) or BLA (Biologics License Application). It’s thinking of analytical method development in a holistic way. Early on we want to focus on certain aspects of the assay that are most important for early stages of a project but also want to consider how the data generated from these early studies can be used to define acceptance criteria in support of regulatory filings.
What do enjoy about your current work?
I most enjoy that my job requires a lot of creativity compared to other roles. Before this position, I was in the biologics space and now I’m in the gene therapy space, which is in its infancy. I’m doing a lot more research-oriented projects. There are many challenges, requiring creative ways to get around them. I get to innovate more than I would in other roles.
What was your favorite PharBE class and why?
The capstone project class was my favorite because it pulled everything we were learning together and showed us how to apply what we learned to the pharmaceutical industry. It was a challenging class. I spent countless hours going through the motions of each facet of drug development. Before the class I didn’t know how it all worked. Each phase of drug development encompasses different considerations including the studies that need to be completed and how information about the projects is communicated to agencies and the industry.
How did the PharBE program help your career?
I utilized the seminar class PharBE 506 to help with resume and interview preparation. Being able to focus my resume and my interview skills was really helpful for getting my job with Shape Therapeutics. I started as a scientist. It was a big jump from my previous role as sr. research associate at Halozyme Therapeutics thanks in part to my master’s. Also having the overview of the drug development process helped me to land the job I currently have as senior scientist.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy outdoor things like snowboarding, mountain biking in the summer and golfing. I have a 1-1/2 year-old daughter, and I love spending time with her. I’m teaching her how to ride a bike so that she can get out with me as soon as possible.