“The innovation never stops in Thermo Fisher — if you like a challenge, you’ll thrive here!”

Colleen Kelly, Analytical Development Manager, and Paddy Feeny, Senior Analytical Development Chemist, are both incredibly happy with how Thermo Fisher Scientific has supported them with their careers to date.

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Thermo Fisher Scientific operates a world-class contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing campus in Cork supporting customers in developing and optimising novel chemistries to treat rare diseases and manufacturing many life-changing medicines to treat common conditions. There are currently many exciting opportunities to join this growing team with an important Mission to enable their customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.

Thermo Fisher has significantly expanded its drug development capability at the Cork site in recent years and is recruiting into its growing Process Development Services (PDS) team. Chemists and Analysts working in Thermo Fisher’s state-of-the-art laboratories and production facilities here in Cork work alongside colleagues in Project Management, Operations, Engineering, Quality and Supply Chain to deliver the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) that go into products to treat cancer, hepatitis, HIV, lupus, diabetes/weight gain, Parkinson’s Disease, psoriasis, BPH, respiratory diseases and more.

There are several open roles within their Analytical Development (AD) team — the AD chemists are responsible for developing new analytical methods, providing analytical expertise and technical support for all phases of drug development. This might include supporting the analytical aspects of route scouting, route development, proof of concept of new and existing manufacturing routes for APIs.

Peter McDonald, who heads up the PDS team at the Cork site, says: “The career development opportunities here are immense. We are building a world-class AD offering, and the team is working on multiple chemistries in parallel. As well as the opportunity that brings to develop and expand technical skills, our analytical chemists also get to interact with customers on a day-to-day basis and that experience is quite unique.”

Peter McDonald is head of Thermo Fisher's Process Development Services (PDS) team.
Peter McDonald is head of Thermo Fisher’s Process Development Services (PDS) team.

Norma Kelly, Senior Process Chemistry Manager, added: “We partner with more than 20 customers, a mix of large multinationals and small biotech companies, which offers a breadth of experience that you don’t get everywhere. A lot of the development work we do is with biotech companies developing novel chemistries, and we are able to apply our development expertise to help them synthesize it, make it reliable and robust so it can be scaled to support clinical trials and ultimately to commercial manufacture. The Analytical Development team gets a chance to flex their scientific muscles every step of the way.”

Norma Kelly, Senior Process Chemistry Manager at Thermo Fisher, Tara McInerney, Thermo Fisher Scientific Prize in Organic Chemistry awardee and Dr Stuart Collins, Lecturer in Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCC
Norma Kelly, Senior Process Chemistry Manager at Thermo Fisher, Tara McInerney, Thermo Fisher Scientific Prize in Organic Chemistry awardee and Dr Stuart Collins, Lecturer in Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCC

Here, Colleen Kelly, Analytical Development Manager, and Paddy Feeny, Senior Analytical Development Chemist, outline what they love about working as part of the Thermo Fisher team.

What led you to a role in Analytical Development?

Colleen: “I grew up on the west coast of Ireland, by the sea and I loved growing up in nature. Studying science seemed like a no brainer to me. I went on to study Pharmaceutical Science and Drug Development in IT Sligo because it was a broad course. During my degree, I did a lab-based thesis within a Quality Assurance department. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this Quality Assurance experience, combined with the lab experience set me up to start making the transition into Analytical Development.”

Colleen Kelly has worked for a number of pharmaceutical companies, but none have offered her as much variety as Thermo Fisher does.
Colleen Kelly has worked for a number of pharmaceutical companies, but none have offered her as much variety as Thermo Fisher does.

Paddy: “I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and a Master’s of Science, Chemistry from University College Cork. When I first left college, I worked as a research technician and then moved into manufacturing. After a few years, I felt that all I had learnt in instrumentation and analysis leant itself to a natural progression to Analytical Development. At this stage, I had gained what might be called “troubleshooting” experience, I had learned how to develop practical methods of drug development and I was eager to keep moving along that path.”

Why did you choose to build your career at Thermo Fisher Scientific?

Paddy: “I knew I wanted to make the jump into Analytical Development and based on what I had heard about the team here, I knew Thermo Fisher would give me the training that I still needed in certain route development skills in conjunction with the support to learn more about testing and documentation on the job. For my first three years here, I learned quickly yet at a safe enough pace that I felt secure in my learning. I was guided every step of the way. I think what we do in Cork is special, method development is not just a concept here, we all live and breathe it. We get to work on early-stage methods and turn them into something that’s scalable and manufacturable.”

For Paddy Feeny, Thermo Fisher's acceptance of different perspectives and new ideas is one of the best parts of the company's culture.
For Paddy Feeny, Thermo Fisher’s acceptance of different perspectives and new ideas is one of the best parts of the company’s culture.

Colleen: “Cork is a long way from Sligo but I was bamboozled by how much I liked it here, even the setting is so gorgeous. I started in Thermo Fisher with the Quality Control Department, then moved into an Analytical Development chemist role. After four years, I went travelling for a few months and when I came back, I moved between a number of pharmaceutical companies — one consisted of just method transfers, one didn’t do validation work. They weren’t really a right fit as I wanted more variety. In 2023, I re-joined the Thermo Fisher team as a Senior Analytical Development Chemist, and in June was promoted to my current role of Analytical Development Manager.”

Within Thermo Fisher Scientific, what has your career journey been and what experience have you gained?

Colleen: “The opportunities at Thermo Fisher are pretty unique. We’re customer-facing here, and I’d never had that experience anywhere else. I consider myself a people person as well as a chemist and I love the interaction with customers, you really get a sense that the work we are doing is making a real difference in the world.

The customer programmes we work on range from early phase clinical trials all the way through to commercial release, and because we are a contract development and manufacturing organisation you never know what your next project is going to be. The innovation never stops. If you are in any way curious and if you like a challenge, you’ll thrive here within our Process Development Service team.”

Paddy: “I’ve had the opportunity to expand my experience in method development, validations and transfers. Overall I developed my analytical and technical expertise for all phases of drug development because I get to work on honing these skills every day in the lab. After three years of carefully guided learning from my team and demonstrating my hard work, I was guided into the role of Senior Analytical Development Chemist. I volunteered to lead on a three-to-four-month project because I wanted to decide for myself if I liked the specific project leader responsibilities.”

Do you feel like you are contributing to the development of life-saving medicines when you get to work every day?

Colleen: “100%! The work we do means that we work with our customers to adapt whatever methods they have, run their methods here to see how robust they are, make adjustments and then move to validate the data. One of the projects that we’re working, for example, is the first ever treatment for a rare neurodegenerative disorder impacting children with most wheelchair bound in their 20s. The chemistry is really promising, and it’s being investigated as a potential treatment for a range of other neurological disorders. We get to come to Thermo Fisher and work on this amazing project every day.”

Paddy: “Absolutely! When you work on a project here, you work on all stages with the team — you work on the method development and validation, perform a technology transfer of the method to Quality Control or In-Process Control (IPC) labs, troubleshooting of those methods with chemists — all while collaborating with the customer to bring their work to life. When the project concludes into a commercial product, there is an immense sense of pride.”

What would you say to anyone considering a career in Analytical Development at Thermo Fisher Scientific?

Colleen: “The breadth of the work and the collaborative approach to the work is fantastic. We have an amazingly diverse team — a mix of graduates just starting out on their careers and people who have been working for nearly 30 years. Everyone is unique and is supported to achieve their individual career ambitions, we don’t copy and paste a career journey, we help you map out clear career progression. There are also loads of opportunities to get involved in cross-functional groups, for example, I’m a member of the Women’s Resource Group on site and love taking part in our annual Volunteer Day to support the local community. There is a real emphasis on giving back. For example, each year, Thermo Fisher awards a Community Partnership Grant to charities and community groups in Cork’s Lower Harbour — there have been over 100 awardees to date.”

Thermo Fisher Scientific's Cork base contains exceptional laboratories and production facilities.
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Cork base contains exceptional laboratories and production facilities.

Paddy: “If you’re in any way curious about analytical chemistry, give it a try. If you are willing to work hard and demonstrate that you are a team player, Thermo Fisher will look after you and your career here. I’ve seen that working here – there is a culture that welcomes ideas and different perspectives. Inclusion isn’t a buzz word here; diversity is embraced to drive innovation and improvement. It’s hands-on learning within a really supportive team.”

To discover the career opportunities available at Thermo Fisher Scientific, visit their website.


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