Bioanalysis Zone

A day in the life of… Amanda Wilson, AstraZeneca

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Women in Bioanalysis

Amanda WilsonAmanda Wilson

Amanda is currently the Director for the Pre-Clinical Bioanalysis and Toxicokinetics (BA/TK) department and acting Director for the Translational Biomarker & Bioanalysis department in the Drug Safety and Metabolism function at AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK).

Brief biography:

Amanda started her career in the 1990s as a bioanalytical scientist at Fisons Pharmaceuticals (Loughborough, UK) and has spent over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry working in a variety of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) disciplines supporting both small and large molecule projects.  Amanda has managed DMPK multidiscipline teams delivering data for regulatory submission and as a former Director in Clinical Pharmacology and DMPK, Amanda ran a team delivering GLP/GCP bioanalytical data to early phase projects.

Amanda, in her current role, has the responsibility for the delivery of bioanalysis data and toxicokinetic evaluation for non-GLP investigational toxicology and pivotal (GLP) toxicology examination of small molecules and nucleotide therapeutics. Amanda’s team, based in the UK and Sweden, employ analytical endpoints including LC–MS/MS and ligand-binding technologies and oversee the externalization of preclinical bioanalytical projects throughout the project lifecycle. The BA/TK team also provide scientific and regulatory compliance guidance to the AZ externalization in the clinical development functions.

Amanda’s role is transitioning following the formation of a new group, Translational Biomarkers and Bioanlaysis within the Drug Safety and Metabolism Organisation. As acting Director of Translational Biomarkers & Bioanalysis, in addition to the bioanalytical oversight, Amanda and her team are also responsible for the identification, measurement and translation of novel safety biomarker data, preclinical investigational safety studies and complex in vitro systems.

My alarm goes off…

My alarm clock is usually set for between 5 and 6 am and I’m well practiced at creeping around the house to avoid disturbing my family. I usually get breakfast “to go”, comprising tea and toast with homemade jam, as I often have a long drive to get to work and I like to try and beat the traffic congestion by setting off as early as possible. I am like 3 million Britons who spend over 2 hours each day traveling; however, I don’t see my commuting time as totally wasted but rather it is a productive thinking time and the cross-country route I take forms a great backdrop for this.

I’m responsible for…

My role within AstraZeneca is transitioning. I’ve been the Director and GLP Test Facility Manager for the Pre-Clinical Bioanalysis and Toxicokinetics group from some years and during my tenure I’ve been actively involved in a number of key strategic initiatives such as the implementation of plasma microsampling in a regulated environment and creating a dedicated nucleotide bioanalysis group to respond to the diversification of the AstraZeneca portfolio; however, recently we have identified great synergy and opportunity in uniting our preclinical bioanalysis and soluble safety biomarker capability, so my role is evolving.

The Translational Biomarker and Bioanalysis group is a newly created group within our Drug Safety and Metabolism (DSM) function. The vision for the Translational Biomarkers and Bioanalysis group is to develop cutting-edge analytical technology and implement this in support of novel safety biomarker and nucleotide projects.

As a director working within the Translational Biomarker and Bioanalysis group I am accountable for the supervision of a group of very talented scientists who are responsible for the development of bioanalytical and safety biomarker strategies that will facilitate translational understanding, from in vitro and animal models to patients and vice versa.

The group will have a broad remit. The laboratory team have expertise in the delivery of new modality bioanalysis, and novel safety biomarker identification and development in support of preclinical investigative safety studies, target organ safety strategies and microphysiological systems. In addition, members of the group have scientific oversight of our externally delivered preclinical non-GLP small molecule bioanalysis and regulatory facing bioanalysis.

My typical day…

What I love about my role is that no day is ever the same although a lot of my time is spent in meetings; on average I have about five meetings per day and lucky for me there is a good balance of science and operational interactions. I really enjoy engaging with the scientists in my team, getting updates on assay developments or data delivery. Right now I am on an exponential learning curve, engaging with our safety target organ strategy leads and discovery safety specialists to learn about how the new organization can deliver assays that will help to bridge the gaps in our understanding of mechanism of drug induced injury or get a better understanding of preclinical–clinical translation. In the last couple of weeks, in between meetings I’ve been completing surveys in preparation for the next bioanalysis Global CRO / pharma interchange in the USA and for the next European Bioanalysis forum (EBF) strategy meeting in Brussels. In addition, I’m busy preparing to run a mini-workshop at the EBF strategy meeting on strategic implementation of new technology into the analytical laboratory.

 The best part of my job…

I feel privileged to work with so many talented scientists who are doing innovative science to improve patient’s lives and there is no better feeling than hearing patients talk about the impact our medicines are having.

 The worst part of my job…

Seeing myself on video conferences.

 After work…

In the spring and summer months I like to spend time in my garden. I really enjoy growing my own vegetables and cooking with my home-grown produce. It’s a different type of chemistry I suppose. I live in a very friendly village and there is generally opportunity to socialize with friends and family most weekends. I particularly enjoy entering my produce and cooked goods into our village show, where there is healthy competition for the coveted trophy donated by the village division of the Women’s Institute (WI) , which is the largest voluntary womens organisation in the UK. I’ve won a few categories in the past but the trophy has eluded me so far. Perhaps this year is my year.

 I always wanted to be…

There was a strong science focus in my family so it wasn’t surprising that I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my father and brother and join the family business as a pharmacist. From around the age of 14 years I would work in the pharmacy, as a Saturday shop assistant. I loved interacting with the customers and playing a role in health care in the community. Wanting to keep my career options open I chose a degree course, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, which introduced me to multiple opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector and led me down the career path to where I am today.

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