SGS is pleased to announce the inclusion of Dr Luc-Alain Savoy, Global Head of Biologics for SGS AFL, and Dr. Dujuan Lu, SGS Global E&L Lead, in The Medicine Maker's 2020 Power List.
The list celebrates those individuals who have had a positive impact on the pharmaceutical industry over the last 12 months.
We talked to Dujuan and Luc-Alain to learn more about their work and what it feels like to be named in the Power List.
Congratulations! How does it feel to be named one of the most influential people working in the pharmaceutical industry?
Of course, it is a great honor to receive this accolade from The Medicine Maker, but I like to think this is also recognition for all the work SGS is doing in the field of Extractables and Leachables (E&L).
Who has inspired you in your career?
Family is really important. My father was an engineering professor and my mother was a businesswoman before they retired; their example taught me how to be a proper scientist and how to work effectively in a team. My husband is also a PhD scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, so he gives me both inspiration and support.
Academically, I have had some wonderful mentors, especially my PhD advisor, Professor Stephen Weber. It was their example that made me move into Analytical Chemistry and ultimately the world of E&L. This is an important field, as it is vital that we ensure the polymeric materials used to manufacture and pack drug products are safe and effective.
Today, I find inspiration all around me, not least in the people I work with at SGS. Their passion and work ethic has motivated me to progress up the career ladder. I'm just lucky to have found a field and work environment in which I can prosper.
What has been your career route to becoming SGS Global E&L Lead?
I studied chemistry at Nanjing University before completing my PhD dissertation in the field of Analytical Chemistry – "Parallel polymer-based microextraction methods to study intermolecular association and physicochemical properties" – at the University of Pittsburgh.
After working as a researcher at the university, I became a R&D scientist at a global pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi and began specializing in E&L. E&L is all about the interaction between the polymer material phase and the drug product phase, which is very relevant to my PhD research. I am also able to use my expertise in analytical chemistry techniques (GC/MS, LC/MS), and I feel very fortunate to have found a field that no only excites me and allows me to grow, but also lets me build upon my past experience.
I joined SGS in 2015 and, in 2017, I was made SGS Global E&L Lead. Today, I lead the US E&L team as well as coordinating with SGS's other E&L Centers of Excellence in Germany and China, ensuring harmonization across the whole network.
I also work to promote a better understanding of the field of E&L on a global scale, creating webinars, frequently presenting and presiding at various technical conferences, writing publications, attending events, and participating in specialist panels.
What makes SGS a leader in the field of Extractables and Leachables?
SGS has been working in the E&L field for several years, and now operates a global expert network covering Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. We have considerable experience in various types of pharmaceutical packaging materials, including pharmaceutical and biologics container closure systems, process materials used in pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturing, and medical devices.
Our dedicated E&L teams are made up of experienced technical staff and PhD scientists with a strong expertise in organic compound structure elucidation. We also have state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation including high-resolution mass spectrometers (GC-Orbitrap, GC-QTOF, LC-Orbitrap, LC-QTOF), part of a significant investment program over the last four years.
How do you see the small molecule field progressing?
In my opinion, the next big thing will be small. There is currently a lot of attention on big molecule biological drugs, but it is still small molecule drugs that treat most patients.
Most new drug application (NDA) approvals by the FDA in recent years have been new molecular entities, which are still small molecules. There are also numerous ANDA approvals for generic drugs, mainly on common small molecule medicines and not biosimilars.
Another interesting area in the small molecule field is the use of big data. This approach is being used for a variety of things, including targeting therapeutic discoveries.
Can you tell us a little about how SGS and your E&L team is responding to COVID-19?
For me, it is a pleasure to be working in a company that is leading the way in E&L. In particular, during the current pandemic, we are working on E&L projects that support clients who are developing COVID-19 medicines and vaccines. I feel immensely proud of the essential work SGS is doing to help fight COVID-19, despite the operation difficulties the crisis has created.
Congratulations! How does it feel to be listed in The Medicine Maker's 2020 Power List?
It is obviously an honor to be included on the list. When I consider who else has received this accolade, it is many of the people I would cite as influences on my own career and approach to working in biopharmaceuticals.
You were appointed Global Head of Biologics for SGS Agriculture, Food & Life in February 2019, what does your role involve day-to-day?
One of the things that excites me about my current position is that I now operate on a larger global scale. My role involves defining SGS's development strategy for Biologics, including positioning our activities and supporting our expansion in the marketplace.
SGS operates 17 biopharmaceutical facilities as part of its global Life Science network. It is my task to ensure we continue to offer best in class services to our customers all over the world. In 2019, for example, this meant an emphasis on developing peptide and protein services in China and India.
It is important for SGS to remain at the forefront of the global expansion in biopharmaceuticals. Our expertise is helping to bring lifesaving medicines to developing regions and influencing the way local biotech industries are developing, to ensure they have a minimal impact on the environment.
What did you do before being named SGS Global Head of Biologics?
I studied at the University of Geneva and then received a Royal Society Fellowship to join a postdoctoral team at Imperial College London. I specialized in the use of Mass Spectrometry in the field of both quantitative and qualitative biopharmaceutical characterization. More recently, I have been at the forefront of promoting the use of innovative technologies, such as Ion Mobility Spectrometry, for comparative studies in biosimilar environments, and helped pioneer physicochemical characterization using biophysical techniques to analyze high order structure of (glyco)proteins.
In 1991, I co-founded and became managing director of a company that specialized in protein/glycoprotein analysis, pharmaceutical analysis, E&L, and bioanalysis to support drug development programs. I continued as managing director when the company was acquired by SGS in 2010, until becoming SGS Global Head of Biologics in 2019.
Finally, can you tell us a little about how SGS is responding to COVID-19.
SGS has several initiatives in place to help mitigate the negative business effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, we had already launched OneVision in 2019, an initiative to digitalize and harmonize processes and procedures across the entire global laboratory network. This, alongside other programs, mean our facilities can continue to function throughout the pandemic. Our work in testing, releasing drug batches, and supporting the development of new drugs is essential at a time like this.
Coronavirus and particularly COVID-19 are obviously a major topic for the industry and SGS is involved in the fight in various ways. A key component is the work being done by our virology laboratory in Glasgow, Scotland, which is heavily involved in the testing of vaccine candidates.
On a personal level, I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues actively working every day in our laboratories despite the difficulties inherent in the COVID-19 crisis.
Drs Lu and Savoy are just the latest SGS employees to be recognized in The Medicine Maker Power List. Previous recipients have included Dr Archie Lovatt, SGS Life Sciences Biosafety Scientific Director and General Manager at SGS Vitrology Glasgow, in 2015 and 2016, and Adrian Wildfire, Scientific Director, in 2019.
To view the full list, click here.
For further information, please contact:Josée Leach
Global Marketing Manager – Life Sciences
m: +44 7889 939 512
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 94,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,600 offices and laboratories around the world.