Mike Maldazys, PharBE ’18, now works at Juno Therapeutics in Bothell, Wash. Photo courtesy Mike Maldazys.
“I came to the program looking for a transition,” says Mike Maldazys, PharBE ’18, now a team lead/project specialist in cell manufacturing at Juno Therapeutics, part of Bristol Myers Squibb, in the Seattle area. Working with cells and microscopes in academic labs, he felt “motivated but stuck.” He was curious about what happens after the discovery phase.
“The PharBE program will take you from being excited about cells, as I still am, to a whole new world,” Mike says. “It is like the first time looking through a microscope – one learns to see. Instead of cells, we learn to see the ins and outs of taking something to patients.”
A highlight of the program for Mike was the drug discovery and design course. “The course was essentially a history of the coolest, outside-the-box techniques that cell scientists have used to develop drugs,” he says. “The course was built for problem solvers; answers had many solutions and needed the best defenses.”
Mike has encouragement for anyone considering a move to the biotech arena: “If you love cell science, but feel funneled into research, this is the perfect program to open your perspective,” he says. He points to some of the opportunities in manufacturing beyond cell culture, ranging from warehousing to manufacturing design to quality assurance, to name a few. At the right company, he says, there are ways to channel creativity and passion for cell science into the manufacturing process, which he has grown to love. “If you want to work with a bunch of people connected by their passion for cells, medicine and patients, then biotech is a whole new world for you.”