Research & Innovation

Experts Statements: Dr. Jürgen Sans, Alzchem

The Winning Formula: Chemists Who Can Collaborate Will Thrive in Pharmaceutical Research, Experts Predict

12.12.2016 -

Despite tremendous challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry, it continues with its commitment to innovation and the discovery of novel drugs to address unmet medical needs. Indeed, medicinal chemists face a challenge of their own. Trying to survive in a changing environment where pharma is focusing on biologics drug candidates will require chemists to adapt.

CHEManager International asked R&D experts of chemical and pharmaceutical companies to elaborate on their research strategy and share their opinion with our readers. In detail, we interviewed professionals ranging from CEOs to heads of R&D and process development about:

The crucial success factors in chemical and pharmaceutical research.

Dr. Jürgen Sans: Efficiency and effectiveness are the key factors for success in chemical research. Success-oriented chemical research is directly linked with chemical production. Lab chemists have to understand not only what is technically possible but also economically feasible. It saves time and money if the design of experiments is focused on those reactions and conditions that could be scaled up easily, safely and — if possible — without an investment. It also has to be noticed that a production process not only depends on the reaction route but also on essential factors like workup conditions, purification, safety, supply chain, waste management, etc. A lab chemist has to consider these points early in development. Therefore, a strong technical background and an understanding of the cost of production are required. In some cases it will be more important to be very fast with acceptable costs, in other cases it might be more important to optimize the costs within an acceptable time range. Especially for contract manufacturing projects this needs to be clarified with the customer at the beginning of a project.


In the end those
will be successful who
can combine the right tools
with the intuition and
experience of a chemist.

Dr. Jürgen Sans,
Head of Innovation Management,


For efficiency it is important to have a broad range of technologies available in the lab as well as in the pilot and in the production facilities. The decision for a reaction route has to be based on a series of factors and not only on chemistry. For technologies that are not available in-house, collaborations need to be established as early as possible. It is essential for smooth scale-up that research chemists, engineers and plant managers cooperate closely. For contract manufacturing it is important to offer some unique technologies or to have the ability for the handling of crucial raw materials or to have some special raw materials in-house.


Challenges and changes affecting the work of R&D chemists in the future.

Dr. Jürgen Sans: For the future, chemical research will increasingly be impacted by IT tools, both in design and evaluation of experiments. If applied properly, this will certainly enhance the efficiency of lab work. I can think about automated lab reactors, software tools or fast analytical methods. Due to the acceleration of product life cycles, mini-plant and continuous reaction technology have to play a bigger role in scale-up of new processes. However, in the end those will be successful who can combine the right tools with the intuition and experience of a chemist.