To gain a better understanding of how BioAgilytix upholds scientific excellence in large molecule bioanalysis, it is important to know the people behind the science. For that reason, we are interviewing members of our Scientific, Quality Assurance (QA), and Quality Control (QC) teams to hear their stories about life at BioAgilytix, and how they contribute to the work we do every day.
In this Q&A session, we get to know Dave Williams, Director, Bioanalytical Operations at BioAgilytix, and how his role has evolved since joining the team in 2017.
Tell us about your background and what brought you to BioAgilytix.
I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2002 with a degree in Biochemistry and began working at a small diagnostics company, which actually had a CRO arm; I started in their lab and gained experience in a range of studies – from exploratory to regulated – and eventually became a manager there. After spending five years in that role, I decided to go back to the University of Kansas Medical Center to get my Ph.D. in Toxicology. My research involved monitoring acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose patients, and correlating rodent mechanisms of liver toxicity to what we see in humans. After graduating I ended up staying at Kansas for another year and a half as a Scientific Lab Manager at the university’s Medical Center. From there I moved to Viacor and then PRA Health Sciences, where I led a team focused on large molecule method development for studies involving biomarkers, PK, ADA and NAb.
Before coming to BioAgilytix, all of my schooling and jobs were based in Kansas City, but when I heard about the opportunity to work for the company, I knew it would be well worth the move to North Carolina. I saw a lot of potential for my career trajectory, as not only was BioAgilytix growing rapidly, but since operations handle everything from method development to validation to sample analysis, I would have the opportunity to be exposed to more of the projects from start to finish. The idea of moving to Triangle Park was also appealing to me because it has such a vibrant scientific community; I would get to live and work in the heart of science innovation.
Tell us about your role at BioAgilytix.
I am currently a Director of Bioanalytical Operations at BioAgilytix, and I am mainly responsible for cell-based neutralizing antibody assays (NAbs). I also deal with some pharmacokinetics (PK) and biomarker work as well. I enjoy the variety in projects because my expertise is historically in PK and ADA, and I get to apply my strengths in that realm, but I have also had the opportunity to become fully immersed in cell-based assay work, where BioAgilytix is truly an industry leader. When I initially came on board, I actually wasn’t slated to concentrate on cell-based assays, but a serendipitous opportunity allowed me to take on those responsibilities. It came with a learning curve, but I really enjoy troubleshooting and took a “full immersion” approach to tackle those challenges.
Team management is obviously also a big part of my role, and I currently manage a group of about 40 scientists. As I mentioned, I really do enjoy troubleshooting so one thing I always encourage is for them to bring me their scientific challenges, because solving them my favorite part of my job. I want the environment to be truly collaborative so that no one is afraid to ask questions – the more insights we can share between us, the better it makes our team and organization as a whole.
Are you able to see the impact of the work you do no a larger scale?
By the nature of this industry, we have the opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives. We are able to directly see the impact when a sponsor company is at the end of the drug development process and their therapeutic is successfully approved. I haven’t been at BioAgilytix very long, so I haven’t had one of my projects go through the entire lifecycle and be approved… yet. There are definitely a few projects I am involved with are heading that way. It is a great feeling to know that you’ll have had a hand in creating a drug that will be a game changer for so many patients down the line.
What do you think differentiates BioAgilytix from other CROs?
The people that work at BioAgilytix are truly the difference maker. The entire team is committed to collaboration and teamwork, creating an ideal environment that allows us to work towards the common goal of finding the best solutions for our customers. Across the company, we share resources and expertise freely to ensure that each team and project is successful in that endeavor.
What is your favorite thing about working at BioAgilytix?
I am constantly challenged here. I have the opportunity to work on a lot of different projects that focus on a wide variety of scientific approaches and disease states. With such diverse projects coming in from our sponsors, I get to see a lot more than I would get to see working at a pharma or biotech company. I get to learn and innovate every day; what more could I ask for from a job?
Interested in hearing from other BioAgilytix team members? You can find other Q&A sessions from our employees here.