Reserach & Innovation

Experts Statements: Linda Hicks, Vertellus

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.

Linda Hicks: In today’s business climate, it is even more critical to make the business case when it comes to investing in research. Companies must be able to quantify a return on investment for any new research initiative. Accordingly, chemical companies are seeking research chemists who understand chemistry and the practical reality that it takes to create value in the industry. Research budgets simply don’t allow companies to retain specialized experts in every specific discipline needed to execute new product development such as reaction kinetics, thermal dynamics and polymerization. Today’s chemical companies are looking for individuals with broader, more flexible skill sets that can be applied to different areas of the business and technology platforms as the marketplace evolves. Scientists and engineers are also needed with the skills to establish and maintain collaborative partnerships and consulting relationships to access higher level expertise in needed disciplines.


The challenges …
will require a broad skill set
and the ability to collaborate
within the company and
around the globe.

Linda Hicks,
Vice President Global Technology,

Interestingly enough, this trend aligns with a demographic shift discussed at a recent US Industrial Research Institute forum for chief technology officers. The millennial generation has a nimble and impatient mindset when it comes to their career paths; companies that can provide opportunities for employees to experience different parts of the business may be more effective at engaging and even retaining young employees.


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

Linda Hicks:Ž The nature of our industry today is already creating a shift in how companies approach R&D. Compared with decades earlier, the focus of R&D has moved from pure research discovery toward optimization and application. This shift also applies to the regions of the world where different types of work are conducted. Companies are tending to focus their innovation efforts in the West and outsourcing more routine work offshore. Again, economies are influencing this shift. The challenges our industry faces — both economic and demographic — will require a broad skill set and the ability to collaborate within the company and around the globe.