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: When did you realize you wanted to be a scientist?
Sonia Patel: I think the turning point for me in terms of making a career choice was when I was 16 and I the fantastic opportunity to go and work in the local hospital and work with patients and there I was on a heart transplant ward and it was amazing just to work with patients and get a real feel for what it was like to be around patients who weren’t well. I found that such a rewarding experience, it was an opportunity for me to feel like I was doing something rewarding on a daily basis and it was something I really enjoyed. So I’d say definitely at 16 I started to have a real sense of what I wanted to do and having an idea and wanted to go into the healthcare profession and then after that I did my A levels in chemistry and biology and then chose to do a career in pharmacy and I think I’ve totally landed on my feet coming into research.
Recorded on: July 14, 2008