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SSPC’s Monika Myślińska, TCD, industry placement at SK Biotek
November 4, 2022

Monika Myślińska, a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin has finished an SSPC industry placement at SK Biotek. Read about her experiences.

My name is Monika Myślińska and I am a final year PhD student in Trinity College Dublin under the supervision of Prof. Anne Marie Healy and co-supervision of Dr Steven Ferguson, University College Dublin. My PhD project is focused on the methods of increasing the solubility of poorly soluble drugs by formulation of amorphous solid dispersion (ASDs). The ASD is a short-ordered form of a drug (amorphous) molecularly dispersed in a polymeric matrix, which stabilizes the molecule in the metastable amorphous state. I am mostly interested in the impact of different manufacturing processes of ASDs on their critical quality attributes – mostly physical stability. I am comparing a range of physicochemical characteristics of the prepared powders to decipher if and how the process influence its stability in the amorphous form. The other interesting factor is the effect of the manufacturing process on the downstream processing of the formulation. I hope to investigate this further in the nearest future.

I took up an SSPC PhD industry placement in SK Biotek in June 2022 in the Research & Development (R&D) Department , reporting to Dr Eoin Power and Dr Atif Madi. SK Biotek Ireland located in Swords near Dublin manufactures APIs for a range of medicines. The Research & Development (R&D) Department consists of various professionals such as chemists, chemical engineers, who provide technical support to both existing processes and development of new processes. During my placement I worked on a project which was relevant to my PhD studies.

The similarity of both industrial and my PhD project allowed me to compare the different approaches in analysing and solving the problems associated with technical or plan executing issues. I had weekly meetings with my direct Manager when I was updating him on the progress of the project. However, all the problems were solved almost instantly with the help of the Manager or some of the other colleagues. It also showed me the working culture in the R&D department setting, which was very accommodating, positive, inclusive, pleasant to work in, effective communication and goals oriented.

In my opinion taking part in the SSPC PhD placement project gave me a great opportunity to gain a very valuable work-related experience. Firstly, I had to go through the recruitment process comprising of CV submission and online interview. The placement-interview had a set of technical and behavioural questions. During the placement I had my own project which I was responsible for, but I was also participating in other projects in which I had to collaborate with a team. It was a good mix of things I have already mostly learnt in academia – working by yourself, but also new ones, like effective communication with professionals from many different backgrounds – from pharmaceutical to engineering.

Overall, I would highly recommend applying for the SSPC’s Industry Placement Programme. It gives the unique possibility to gain new technical and interpersonal skills during our postgraduate studies. I think that the broadening your skillset, adding to your experience, meeting new professionals with very different expertise is really worth it.

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