What’s so cool about working at Merck is that the problem solving we do, using cutting-edge research and science, results in positive impact to people's lives and their quality of life.”
When you or I think about medicine, we may just think about what lines our bathroom cabinet.
But, medicines actually come in a variety of forms and can be administered in a variety of ways. And, while these medicines are very powerful in their ability to heal people from devastating illnesses, they are also sometimes very fragile in their chemical stability, impacting their ability to be transported to remote locations while still maintaining potency. In order to remain effective, they may require refrigeration or smooth transport -- meaning, they must travel to a clinic or a hospital or a doctor’s office on paved roads in the safety of an enclosed, cool truck and not, say, days through dusty, hot terrain in a third world country.
As executive director of Merck's Preformulation Group, Jason Cheung plays an important role in making sure our medicines can be manufactured consistently and maintain their stability so that they can get to the patients who need them, where ever in the world they may be.
“Our goal is to build foundational knowledge on mechanisms that maintain product stability and effectiveness. Understanding these mechanisms supports our ability to deliver innovative medicines across the globe,” explains Jason.
Their work begins in the early stages of the research and development journey -- long before our drug candidates are tested as potential medicines in clinical trials -- and continues until they have a product that is suitable for large-/commercial-scale manufacturing.
“When medicines finally become available to patients, they've already undergone a challenging journey,” he says. “Our medicines are created either through complex chemistry or by manipulating living cells to express proteins. In both cases, we start with very small scales and volumes (think mL) and ultimately produce them at scales that are thousands of liters.”
In addition to quantity increases, another challenge for Jason and his team is figuring out how to maintain quality and stability throughout the physical journey of our medicines. “We transport these from one lab to another and from our manufacturing facilities to clinics all over the world during different moments in testing and trials. And they have to be able to withstand that kind of movement.”
When asked if he got into this line of work because he likes to solve problems, Jason doesn’t hesitate. “Oh, I think all scientists get into this because they like to solve problems,” he said, resolutely. “And what’s so cool about working at Merck is that the problem solving we do, our research using cutting-edge technology and science, results in positive impact to people's lives and their quality of life. It’s a very rewarding experience.”