Sonia Patel works in Research Formulation at Pfizer's Sandwich, UK campus, where she develops tablets and capsules for clinical trials. Working at a pharmaceutical research company is not what Sonia envisioned after her chance attendance at a pharmacology conference altered her career trajectory many years ago. Rather, she thought she would work in a hospital or local pharmacy. But after completing her Masters in Pharmacy, she decided to join Pfizer in 2002. Sonia has always loved science. As a child, her favorite possessions included a chemistry set, microscope and "Operation" game. An accomplished student of math and science, Sonia completed a study program at a local hospital at age 16 and was even able to watch a heart transplant. Ultimately, she determined surgery was not her calling as she "didn't like all the blood." Today, Sonia's work is driven by her desire to improve the lives of patients. On her travels through India, she witnessed how Pfizer medicines like Maraviroc had a profoundly uplifting affect on Indian villages ravaged by HIV. In the future, Sonia hope to have the opportunity to do hands-on work in such a community. Outside the lab, Sonia's passions include art, photography, cycling and fitness. If she was not an industrial pharmacist, she says, she'd want to be a rock star.
Question: What surprises people about your job?
Sonia Patel: So firstly, they’re always fascinated to hear that it takes so long to get a new molecule out to market. So that always seems like so much debate around how long it takes and why and I go onto explain that there’s reasons for this is because medicines have to go through a series of carefully controlled clinical trials which test new drugs for safety, efficacy and the highest scientific standards are always applied. And that’s why it takes so long because you have to go through various trials of human clinical trials. At the end of that, they’re always amazed to hear about just how long it takes, how much effort it takes. But then at the end of it, how valuable it is when we produce medicines that treat areas of such great medical need. So for example, when I spoke about Myroviroc and it was the first of a new oral treatment of the HIV and AIDS, and they really appreciate the work that we do.
Recorded on: July 14, 2008