Archived News

May 20, 2010 – Plant Tour: Novartis Vacaville

On May 20, Novartis opened up its facility in Vacaville, California to our student chapter for a plant tour. Nine students were able to attend this tour which detailed each step in the manufacturing process of an up and coming drug. Our student chapter organized carpools so all of the students could have transportation from Davis to Vacaville. The tour started with a presentation summarizing Novartis, specifically its values and goals. One of the most significant goals focused upon in the presentation was the importance Novartis puts on improving the lives of patients using its drugs. Our tour guide then showed us through the fermentation, purification, storage, and utility areas. Novartis showed its dedication to young minds by allowing us to gown up and enter clean spaces such that observation of even the smallest equipment was possible. Our tour guide even allowed us to look inside a 10,000 L bioreactor! The presenter informed us that it was an exciting time at the facility: technology transfer of a new drug had been going on for some time. He also mentioned an exciting project that had recently been concluded: a solar panel grid, used to provide renewable energy to the facility, had been completed in 2009. The tour concluded with a question and answer session with the presenter – he was generous in informing us on potential employment opportunities with Novartis.

May 17, 2010 – Corey Veverka

For the last general meeting of the 2009-2010 academic year, we had Mr. Corey Veverka as a guest speaker, for a much expected talk about Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s). Veverka is a Project Manager at Total Validation Services Inc., and he is also the Vice-President of the San Francisco/Bay Area ISPE Professional Chapter. He gave a historical explanation of how GMP regulations originated and developed over time, with the purpose of making medicines safe and effective. Veverka also gave an overview of what current GMP’s are, and discussed the minimum requirements for cGMP’s contained in the 21 CFR part 210 and 211. He emphasized how biotechnology is one of the most regulated industries in the planet, and that documentation is so important that “if it’s not documented, it never happened”. Veverka also answered questions about his current job role as a project manager working in validation. Our students gained a better understanding of what GMP’s are and how they govern the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.

In this meeting we also had our officer elections for the 2010-2011 academic year. Nominated students gave a short speech about how they were qualified to be officers and the ideas they had for improving the ISPE student chapter. A ballot was distributed and all of our members voted for their candidates. We congratulate the elected officers!

April 5, 2010 – Steve Walker

During this meeting, chapter President Lucas Arzola promoted upcoming events such as the student poster competition, the Novartis plant tour, and the officer elections for next year. This was followed by our industry advisor Steve Walker discussing his profession with the students. He provided a very interesting question and answer session to those students in attendance, by answering questions about how to be a better candidate for a job at the industry. He answered questions about how students can optimize their chances in this job market, given the tough economic times. He also gave tips on presentation of resumes and job interviews.

March 2, 2010 – Plant Tour: Amgen Fremont

On March 2nd, our chapter made a plant tour visit to the Amgen Manufacturing Facilities located in Fremont, California. For this tour, our chapter extended the invitation to the Solano Community College (SCC) ISPE Chapter. A total of 22 ISPE members from both UC Davis and SCC attended this event: 14 students from UC Davis, 6 students from Solano Community College, UC Davis faculty advisor Dr. Karen McDonald and Solano CC faculty advisor Dr. James DeKloe. The architecture of the facility is aesthetically impressive and allows for visitors to see the entire process through glass windows, which makes it easier to understand and connect the entire process, from downstream to upstream to packaging. Upon arrival we were greeted by several managers of the facility. A powerpoint presentation introducing the facility was given by one of the tour guides. A few of the take home messages from this tour is that this facility focuses on only one main antibody that treats cancer and that people look forward to work every day because they know that their work will benefit people at the end of the day.

February 22, 2010 – Jeff Luk

Mr. Luk graduated from Biochemical Engineering at UC Davis in 2001. He is currently a Senior Process Engineer at Amgen, one of the biggest biotechnology companies in the world. Mr. Luk gave an overview of Amgen as a company and gave a preview of what our students will see on our plant tour to Amgen Fremont on March 2nd. He gave insight on his ample experience in the biotech industry, working in companies such as Onyx Pharmaceuticals, PDL Biopharma, and Novartis. Mr. Luk gave career advice to students and discussed topics of interest such as: working at a big company vs. a small company, job interview tips, and the day-to-day of his work as a process engineer. Our chapter thanks Mr. Luk for a great talk, and hopes he enjoyed the ISPE t-shirt we gave him as a gift.

January 28, 2010 – Henry Zhang

Mr. Zhang is a UC Davis alumnus in Chemical Engineering, and is also one of the industry advisors to our student chapter. He who currently works at Eichleay, an engineering firm that does design, procurement, construction, and management for the pharma/biotech industry. Mr. Zhang gave an overview about Eichleay and talked about some of the cutting edge projects the company is working on. He also discussed his profession as an engineer involved in project management and gave career advice to students.

November 19, 2010 – Plant Tour: Genentech Vacaville

On November 19, Genentech opened up its facility in Vacaville, California to our student chapter for a plant tour. Thirteen students and our faculty advisor, Dr. Karen McDonald, were able to appreciate this state-of-the-art facility. Our student chapter organized carpools so all of the students could have transportation from Davis to Vacaville. The tour started with a presentation in which professionals from Genentech talked about the process of producing therapeutics and what we would see on our tour through the CCP1 facility. It was interesting to see that all Genentech employees are driven by the goal of producing medication that can positively impact the quality of life of patients. Our tour guides then showed us through the Manufacturing, Warehouse, and Lab areas. Genentech was a generous host, allowing us to gown up and enter the clean rooms to observe the equipment up close. It was interesting to learn that this facility is the largest manufacturing plant for pharmaceutical proteins in the world. From a design standpoint, the facility was built efficiently, because all of the utilities are centralized in a tunnel they call “The Spine”. This setup allows Genentech to expand their facilities easily and at a lower cost. The tour concluded with a question and answer session with the Genentech professionals.

November 16, 2009 – Luciano Pollastrini

Mr. Pollastrini is a UC Davis graduate in Chemical Engineering who currently works in the Manufacturing Sciences Dept. at Genentech Vacaville. He talked about Genentech as a company and described the process used to make therapeutics on the CCP1 facility. Pollastrini described his role as an engineer in the manufacturing area and how his efforts are directed to continually improve the efficiency of the manufacturing operations. He gave an example of a current project he is working on, in which they are trying to improve the efficiency and output of the process to the point where they can perform 5 runs per week. Finally, Pollastrini elaborated on the many opportunities Genentech offers to students, including jobs, internships and CO-OPs, for different life sciences and engineering majors, both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

October 28, 2009 – Networking Bingo & Kickoff Meeting

The first meeting of the 2009-2010 academic year began with an icebreaker dynamic called the Networking Bingo. Students had bingo sheets with categories such as: “meet the president”, “meet an industry advisor”, “meet an international student”, “meet a freshman”, etc. To fill out their card and achieve a bingo, students had to go around the room and network to get the appropriate signatures. This fun event helped the new students interact with each other and meet the ISPE officers and advisors. New member Prasad Gawande was the winner and received an ISPE t-shirt as a prize. The kickoff meeting then started with our president, Lucas Arzola, giving a powerpoint presentation explaining what ISPE was, the benefits of membership, and how to join. The officers, our faculty advisor Karen McDonald and our industry advisor Steve Walker also introduced themselves and addressed the audience. We concluded the meeting by presenting the activities that are planned for the year and encouraging the students to stay connected.

May 9, 2009 – UC Davis graduate student wins 1st place at San Francisco/Bay Area Poster Competition

Lucas Arzola, a doctoral student in Chemical Engineering who is also obtaining a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology, won the ISPE SF/Bay Area Chapter Student Poster Competition held at Gilead Sciences, Inc. in Foster City, CA. Lucas received a trip to the ISPE Annual Meeting in San Diego on November 8-11, where he will compete in the ISPE International Student Poster Competition. UC Davis Biomedical Engineering doctoral student Jonathan Lam obtained 2nd place at the competition. Congratulations!

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