BioAgilytix’s team features a plethora of talented scientists with well-rounded experience and expertise. While some of these individuals have remained stationed in their respective locations for most of their careers, some have gone halfway around the world and back again to bring their gained experiences home. In this team Q&A, talk to Janett Schwarz, Principal Investigator at BioAgilytix, and learn how her career took her on a dual-continental journey before returning back to Germany and joining BioAgilytix’s European headquarters.
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to join BioAgilytix.
I studied biochemistry at the Hannover Medical School in Germany, which is where I achieved by Ph.D. and did my post-doc focused on studying Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42, which regulate a variety of cellular functions by signaling to different signal pathways. In 2010, I decided to move to San Diego, California to take a Research Associate position with The Scripps Research Institute. A little over two years later I moved back to Germany and joined a small startup therapeutics company in Aachen as a preclinical scientist. I was there for about four years before moving back to Hamburg, Germany to take maternity leave and start my family.
During that time, I connected with a team member from BioAgilytix on LinkedIn, who informed me of an opening for a Principal Investigator position at BioAgilytix’s European headquarters in Hamburg. I decided to apply for the position, and happily I was able to join the team; that was little over 2 years ago now.
What have you enjoyed most about working here since that time?
Science is my passion, and the wide range of projects that I am exposed to and get to work on regularly here is exciting. As a Principal Investigator (PI) I have a group of scientists that I manage, and I really enjoy being part of a small, close-knit team. It’s rewarding to be able to work with and collaborate with other talented, science-minded professionals who share my passion and who truly care about working to find solutions to complex assay challenges.
How has your role evolved over time?
BioAgilytix has given me a lot of opportunity to learn and grow my skills. In my first month on the job, they provided a lot of training and I acted as second PI on a project. It was really helpful to be able to watch and learn how to train a team before diving right in and doing it. After that went well, I then received my first project as the primary PI, and today I work with five or six different clients at a time on varying projects. Having lived and worked outside Germany with many different cultures for a number of years, I find it exciting – sometimes still challenging in a positive way – to work with clients from America, Asia, and also from Europe. While I mainly work in the areas of pharmacokinetics (PK), anti-drug antibodies (ADAs), and neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), every study is different and they require diverse techniques, which keeps each day interesting and makes our team approach very helpful.
During my time here I also have become specialized in immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody testing using the Phadia ImmunoCAP platform. BioAgilytix provided for my training on the system and now I oversee virtually all of our assays for detecting drug-induced IgE-mediated immune responses. This platform is becoming more and more important because IgE-ADA should be tested for therapeutic protein products with high risk for allergic or anaphylactic reactions because the clinical consequence can be life-threatening. I am very happy to be able to offer my expertise to our customers.
How would you describe the company culture at BioAgilytix?
The BioAgilytix team is made up of members that really take care of each other; they are truly an incredible group to work with. You can go to anyone and discuss data or ask questions. We all support each other however we can. Personally, I really enjoy my team, and I feel I can trust them with the tasks I give them. It’s also helpful to have to the US-based lab team to consult on certain projects. Between our US and European headquarters, we can take on a variety of bioanalytical projects since we have the knowledge base in both European Medicines Agency (EMA) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
On a more fun note, it is also great that the company hosts team-building activities like monthly happy hours that allow us to get to know one another and take a break from all of the hard work we do. It reminds us that it is important to find balance and take care of ourselves too. I feel lucky to be a part of this supportive and collaborative organization.
Want to hear from other BioAgilytix team members? You can find other Q&A sessions from our employees here.