A Peek into the Biotechnological Industry
Bachelors’ in Industrial Biotechnology, Batch of 2020, ACT Campus.
R&D Intern, Biologics Division
Dr Reddy’s Labs, Hyderabad
Interviewer: Shwetha Ramachandran
Interviewee: Abirami Suresh
GT: Can you give me a gist of what kind of research Dr Reddy's Laboratories are involved in?
Abirami: Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, an Indian multinational pharmaceutical company is mostly involved in generics and biosimilars. Usually, when a company’s patent for a product expires, other companies try to replicate it. But in the case of biology, reproducing a product of the same function and activity is not likely. Dr Reddy’s Labs are involved in the production of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies, which are being used to treat arthritis and cancer. Since, we cannot legally reproduce a product that a company has blocked patent rights for, other ways of stabilising the monoclonal antibody solution are needed. There are two departments in Dr Reddy’s Labs- the Research and Development and Quality Control. I worked in the R&D division, which is involved in finding alternative ways to manufacture the same biomolecules.
GT: How did you come across this internship opportunity and how was your selection process like?
Abirami: In February 2019, Dr Reddy’s Labs arrived for the on-campus recruitment for our seniors. They were looking for summer interns too. The process of selection consisted of 3 rounds - the core round, the logical reasoning round and the final interview. Around 50 people appeared for the first round, out of which 16 people were shortlisted to the final round. They asked us a few technical questions about the field that we were interested in. They also asked us about the mini-projects or the CPDE projects that we'd done.
GT: What in particular about Dr Reddy’s Labs attracted you to this internship?
Abirami: I was attracted by the fact that the company provides a PPO. Also, getting an internship in a core company in the same field is both difficult, and an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. Plus, it’s a putative MNC with a very good market in an emerging industry. The fact that the CUIC gave us such an opportunity was indeed substantial.
GT: What did you work on during your internship?
Abirami: I was involved in the lyophilisation scale-up assessment which determines how a larger batch (on a manufacturing scale) of molecules can be stabilised compared to a relatively smaller batch. Lyophilisation is a process where a liquid formulation (such as a monoclonal antibody solution) in which unstable proteins are converted into a cake-like substance. Essentially, lyophilisation is removing water from a particular solution by sublimation in low-pressure conditions. Stabilizing protein molecules is crucial and requires the consideration of numerous parameters.
GT: What were the struggles of doing your internship?
Abirami: As a student, I had previously read only a small paragraph about the lyophilisation process in my college syllabus. To work out an entire project based on that process was challenging, to say the least. I had my work cut out for me. I had to learn a great deal, starting from how the lyophilisation process is different for small and large molecules, how to run a cycle from a smaller lyophilizer and how it can be scaled up for larger molecules, and it is undoubtedly not an easy task in the industry. Plenty of standard operating procedures have to be followed. In short, immense learning and SOPs have to be performed before any hands-on-work can be given to you. Therefore, I was mainly involved in the theoretical portion of the project like risk factor assessment. It was a refreshing and daring experience for me.
GT: Tell me one interesting thing you learnt from your time at Dr Reddy's Labs.
Abirami: I interned in the Formulation Development and Product Development (FDPD) division which is involved in gathering inputs from different divisions. What I found interesting was how an industry traverses from R&D to manufacturing, and how the product mimics the same flow. Most of my seniors or people that I have seen, do not pursue a career in the industry. However, I strongly feel that experience in the industry can tune your academics. I acquired a considerable amount of knowledge, which I can use to decide the path of my choice, further ahead.
GT: What preparatory advice would you give your juniors if they were to apply for this internship?
Abirami: Learn the basics and be lucid about your interests. Recruiters will ask you questions only based on the information you give them. The logical reasoning round requires you to showcase your team-building skills and cooperation.
GT: On a final note, what are your thoughts about GT's Intern Diaries Series?
Abirami: The “Intern Diaries” series has proven to be very useful for the students. I have read my own classmates’ interviews in this series last year using which, I have gained a new perspective on what kind of opportunities are available around me. It is especially helpful for someone who does not particularly know what they want. I didn’t know that academic internships existed until I read GT’s interview with Shreyaa Senthilkumar. This helped me get a glimpse of what internships in academia would be like.
I do have one suggestion for you: it would be much more helpful to extend this series to our graduated seniors, especially for the final year students preparing for their placements.
The Guindy Times thanks Abirami Suresh for giving us and our fellow students valuable insights on her experience. We gladly take note of her suggestion and we wish her all the very best for her future endeavours.