UW Master’s of Pharmaceutical Bioengineering (PharBE) program alumna Stephanie Baptiste graduated in December 2019. Stephanie works for Amgen as a business performance manager in the research and development area. She serves as a liaison between the technical and non-technical staff. When Stephanie started at Amgen in 2018, she was a strategic operations and planning associate with the engineering team. She was promoted to senior associate a year and a half later and then moved into her current role as business performance manager in July 2021. She took time to talk with UW BioE about her role and her experience in the PharBE program.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on.
I’m working on two major programs. The first one is our human data initiative where I’m helping to integrate more human data into the business side of drug development. Human data looks at genetics, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics; anything that goes into the area of precision medicine. This allows us to understand diseases so that we can make more efficient drugs and provide better care to patients.
I’m also responsible for resource forecasting to ensure our teams have the resources they need for the roles they have. This allows us to allocate employees and onboard new staff more effectively. We want to be sure we are precise with the number of people we need for the programs we have.
What do enjoy about your current work?
I really enjoy being a part of the science process where we think about medicine in the future. I’m seeing so many innovative ideas that are making an impact. We want to redefine how healthcare is approached so that it is more preventative rather than reactionary, which gives me the motivation to work in this field. I also enjoy the patient stories. We occasionally have patients come and speak about their experience with a drug we developed. It gives me hope that people can benefit from the treatments we are developing.
What was your favorite PharBE class and why?
My favorite class was also my most challenging class – Clinical Development – because it forced me to put in practice what I was learning. It was one of our capstone programs. We took a drug that was early in the clinical trial stages and developed a clinical trial plan around it. We not only learned about the process but were able to create the different documents and regulatory steps needed to develop the drug. This information is pertinent to my job because when I’m talking to people in the clinical trial field, I better understand their needs and challenges. It was challenging writing regulatory documents, but it gave me more empathy and insight into what people face when they are developing new drugs.
How did the PharBE program help your career?
It helped me in two ways. First, it shed light on other West Coast biotech companies that I’m not familiar with. I’m from New Jersey, an area heavily dominated by older pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories. The program gave me insight into other biotech experiences and what it means to create large molecule drugs. I learned about companies that are younger and take different approaches to developing and creating medicine.
Secondly, the course work was very robust. It covered a lot of amazing topics. In my current role, there are people on my team who are very science focused and understand everything from A to Z, but we also have people who don’t understand all of the aspects of drug development, just pieces of it. Because of the PharBE program, I know the drug development process – the timeline and everything – so I’m not lost when I talk to people in that area. I have a good understanding of what they are talking about and can communicate their needs to my team. I get to marry the business aspects to drug development so that we are always in alignment.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I used to teach science on the side to elementary students in Pasadena, Calif. It gave me a sense of community to share the joy I have in science. Aside from science, I love boxing. Every time I move to a new city, I find a new boxing gym because then I know I’ll find friends immediately.