After SSPC Dr Cathy Potter became a Scientist (Chemometrics) at Alkermes #lookingbackmovingforward


Background: In 2018, Alkermes engaged with the SSPC Post Doctoral Working Group to scope and deliver a company specific short-term project on the development of an on-line method for real time process monitoring and end-point detection. This project involved SSPC Post Doctorate Researcher Dr Catherine Potter joining the Alkermes Athlone site for a 12-week period, transitioning academic know how to real world industrial environment.

Cathy was approached by SSPC’s industry liaison officer on the basis that a partner company had an interest in pursuing a feasibility project involving Raman spectroscopy. At the time I was the main user of one of the Raman spectrometers in UL and the project sounded like a great opportunity to apply the knowledge I’d built up during my PhD and postdoc to an industrially relevant application. After a few teleconference calls with the company the topic and scope of the project was agreed. We decided that the most effective way to run the project was for me to be based within the company four days a week for three months.

While based in the company I successfully demonstrated the feasibility of using inline Raman to monitor a tablet coating process in real time. The analysis of spectra, collected from both Raman and mid-to-near-infrared spectrometers, and their transformation into a useable form is currently a specialised skillset, involving knowledge of statistical and multivariate analysis tools. Collectively called Chemometrics, this area of specialism is growing in importance as the uptake of process analytical technologies increases in the move towards continuous manufacturing.

The interaction with Alkermes gave me the opportunity to develop my technical skills in spectroscopy and chemometrics as well as the interpersonal, teamwork and problem solving skills involved with a career in the Pharmaceutical industry. On completing the project I was offered a position in the team, which I accepted. Thanks to SSPC for making the connection happen.

Philip Dorgan – Senior Scientist, Alkermes, said:
“We were interested in introducing real-time spectroscopic analysis tools into our pipeline development activities with a focus on Raman analysis. Being able to temporarily bring an experienced SSPC Postdoctoral researcher into the department provided us with an opportunity to achieve this goal. Cathy’s previous experience with Raman spectroscopy and data analytics allowed her to deliver the project requirements, and identified additional areas of chemometric application for further development”.