Communication is key when conducting bioanalytical testing throughout the phases of drug development. At BioAgilytix, collaboration between each of our departments and within our scientific teams helps us to produce consistently superior results for our global client base. For that reason, we’ve been interviewing members of our Scientific, Quality Assurance (QA), Quality Control (QC), and Business Development teams to hear their stories about life at BioAgilytix, and help you learn how they work together to drive our success.
In this Q&A session, we get to know Florian Sieglitz, Principal Investigator / Bioanalytical Project Manager (BPM) at BioAgilytix Europe, as he discusses his experiences working in drug development and how his role at BioAgilytix’s European headquarters is growing along with the company.
Tell us about your background and what brought you to BioAgilytix’s European headquarters.
I studied biology and biomedical engineering at one of the most renowned and classical universities in Germany where I graduated with a Ph.D. in neurobiology. Right out of school, I was doing academic research on the interaction of neural cell types during embryonic development. It was incredibly interesting and satisfying to study and to begin to understand such a complex system. However, being in basic research I was missing that link to clinically relevant work. I decided to pursue my postdoctoral in Portugal where I learned a great deal about antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and related techniques used in the industry. With that knowledge in hand, I joined BioAgilytix’s Hamburg location in 2017 as a Study Coordinator. I was excited to take on a role that allowed me to be strategically involved in drug development.
Tell us a little about how your role has evolved since then.
When I started as a Study Coordinator, the role was not yet strictly defined and I was given a lot of opportunity to help shape just what the position should entail. Together with my Study Coordinator colleague, we were able to identify ways to improve and expand the position in line with what our projects required, and it was exciting to be able to provide that kind of input. After nine months in that role, I was promoted to a Principal Investigator (PI).
Being a PI can be complex, handling different priorities and tasks all at once, but it is certainly a worthwhile challenge. You are highly engaged in many processes. One the one hand, there is the scientific aspect of developing and validating assays as well as troubleshooting. On the other hand, you address any regulatory requirements and concerns in regards to the assays and the studies and make sure that the data generated is being correctly audited. As a PI, I have learned that communication with the sponsor and with the analysts on my team is vital to the success of any bioanalytical project.
What types of scientific projects do you work on?
One of the great things about working at a CRO is that I get the opportunity to work on a diverse set of projects. My team is involved with pharmacokinetics and immunogenicity assays such as ligand binding assays and anti-drug antibodies assays. However, we have particular expertise in NAb assays and cell-based assays, so we do a lot of cell cultures. We also work with the Biacore platform on a regular basis, which we primarily use for isotyping.
How does your team manage communication and collaboration?
In order to complete a project, every member of our team has to constantly interact with people from other departments of the company, which can be challenging sometimes but is always interesting and keeps us on our toes. Communication is a priority for the whole company; doors are always open here. Everyone on the staff makes themselves available to help with issues or questions. A plus is that at BioAgilytix’s European headquarters, we’re all in one building, on the same level even, so it is very easy for me to speak directly to the other PIs, the analysts and even Arno Kromminga, our European CSO, about any critical issues I may have.
How has BioAgilytix’s growth impacted your role?
My role has already expanded and is continuing to expand as I take on managing more analysts. Last year when I joined BioAgilytix in Hamburg, we were only half the size we are now, so you can imagine there is a lot of change happening. I am lucky to have joined the company at this stage, as I get to work collaboratively with other new hires and people who have been with the company for years to help shape my role and the company as a whole. Typically, at a bigger organization, everything is already in place, so I wouldn’t be able to be part of defining what the company is and what it will be in the future like I am able to do at BioAgilytix’s European location.
What is your favorite thing about working at BioAgilytix’s European headquarters?
I really can’t name one specific thing; BioAgilytix’s Hamburg location is a great place to work. There is the scientific part, which I love and there is the knowledge that with our work we support drug development which hopefully at some point will be able treat or even cure diseases. I also appreciate that even though we are growing, the entire company still feels like a big family. That family mentality helps when pressure is high because everyone steps up to help get a project out the door without hesitation. I never have to deal with a challenge alone; I feel like everyone has my back.
Interested in hearing from other BioAgilytix team members? You can find other Q&A sessions from our employees here.