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“There are no prewritten answers”

Isa Lindgren has been intrigued by all things science since she was a child. As Manager of Analytical Development at NorthX Biologics she gets to integrate her fascination with a new-found interest in business development and intrapreneurship.

NorthX offers services and support in the development and manufacturing of biologics used in vaccines, gene therapy and other advanced applications.

Could you describe your job and your main tasks?

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“I lead a team that serves both our customers and our internal process development team with performing and/or developing all kinds of analyses needed during the developmental phase of the product process. We use molecular assays, cellular assays, microbiological analysis, etc., to deliver the data our customers need.”

Describe a typical day at work!

“My work is mainly office-bound, but after going through my morning emails I like to visit the lab to check in on the staff and the progress of different projects. I spend much of my time in meetings with the project teams, our process development team, customers or anything else needed. I go over data with our excellent technical staff to look at the newest results and assist in planning out experiments we need to perform. Here and there I am able to grab a coffee and chat with all my nice colleagues!”

“I love working within development because there are no prewritten answers on how to solve the tasks at hand and I enjoy thinking on my feet and pushing things forward.”

What is the best part of your job?

“That the days are so varied and the tasks so wide-spanning. I love working within development because there are no prewritten answers on how to solve the tasks at hand and I enjoy thinking on my feet and pushing things forward. It is very rewarding seeing results delivered when you have been a part of the planning from the get-go.”

What is the most challenging part of your job?

“Balancing the line between practical and theoretical work to make sure that I am of optimal use and support to my team.”

What did you study, where, and what degrees do you have?

“I got my M.Sc. in Biology and Ph.D. in Physiology, both from Linköping University. I did postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD, USA, and then I moved back to Linköping for a few years before I spent five more years doing postdoctoral studies at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR, USA.”

Have you worked anywhere else before you took on this role, and if so, where and what job titles have you had?

“After deciding to transition from academia to industry in 2019, I spent three years at Chiesi Pharma AB in Stockholm, as a Preclinical Senior Scientist. At Chiesi, I mainly worked with biologics R&D, and cell therapy in particular. My time there was incredibly valuable, I learnt about all the phases of drug development and I feel that the experience I gained will serve me incredibly well here at NorthX.”

“My time there was incredibly valuable, I learnt about all the phases of drug development and I feel that the experience I gained will serve me incredibly well here at NorthX.”

What made you interested in life sciences, biologics and manufacturing?

“I have been intrigued by all things science since I was a child. My biology background has kept that fire burning. My research in physiology has rendered an interest in more than just biology, and I have had to learn lots of biochemistry to understand cellular processes, physics to understand pressures and flows, electrics and engineering to build and operate customized equipment etc. The list goes on and on. Integrating all those parts with a new-found interest in business development and intrapreneurship is the best part of my current job in manufacturing!”

 

NorthX Biologics’ facility in Matfors, Sweden

 

What made you interested in NorthX Biologics and what opportunities do you have there?

“I am originally from “the North” and have been wanting to move back since reestablishing our lives in Sweden. When I saw the news about NorthX in my life science channels, I saw it as a sign that the time had come to make the move. I could instantly see how my profile could benefit NorthX and immediately contacted my current head of department to enquire about opportunities. I was more than thrilled when my current position was advertised, as I could see how I could make a difference while, at the same time, getting a new personal challenge in an exciting field.”

“With lots of practical work being performed in our lab, it is important that all of us in the team are willing to pitch in where needed. Communication is, as always, key. Being available, approachable and responsive are some of my main goals as a manager.”

Describe how you interact with colleagues in solving different problems/tasks?

“Being quite new in the job and in a newly-founded department, we are still establishing the structure of working and interacting. However, my personal way to address problem-solving is to first analyze the available capacity and competence in the team to find the right person for the task. Clarity is important, both for the person mainly responsible for the task, but also for me as the manager to make sure I can follow-up the work being performed and to further report any progress to the right instance. With lots of practical work being performed in our lab, it is important that all of us in the team are willing to pitch in where needed. Communication is, as always, key. Being available, approachable and responsive are some of my main goals as a manager.”

What are the current trends in your field?

“There is a lot of movement in the field of cell therapy right now, and although this is currently in the periphery of our operations, I believe that this is an area where I want to stay updated and educated.”

In your opinion, in what areas of life science is Sweden especially strong?

“Anything biologics-based, as that is the main part of pharma that I have operated in during my relatively short industrial career. Enzymatic therapy, cell therapy, DNA/RNA vaccines, etc. As these therapeutic areas are quite new and unexplored globally, this is a golden moment in time for a relatively small nation as Sweden to build rapport and reputation.”

“As these therapeutic areas are quite new and unexplored globally, this is a golden moment in time for a relatively small nation as Sweden to build rapport and reputation.”

Has your job been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and if so, how?

“I believe no one can really answer ‘no’ to this question. To be able work from home and meet digitally is of course the main positive outcome of the pandemic. Losing the daily contact with colleagues over coffee or lunch or an informal chat over the cubicles has definitely affected the mental work-environment negatively. I look forward to being able to work on-site in my new role!”

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