Spotlight on Reading, UK - Q&A with Chris Landeg, Site Head of Quotient Sciences Reading
As the Site Head of Quotient Sciences Reading Facility, Chris Landeg oversees all formulation development and clinical trial manufacturing projects that are conducted at this particular site.
1. Looking back to when you were first starting in your career, was your goal to be where you are now? Tell us about your background, what you studied and how it all has led you to your current role here at Quotient?
I’m sure there are not too many people who knew when they started their career exactly where they would end up – but I don’t think that is a bad thing! I studied pharmacology originally and always wanted to be involved with the development of medicines. The start of my career in science was around the time that there was a huge growth in outsourced service providers and this growing market has allowed the businesses with which I have been involved to grow. This in turn has provided career opportunities for growth. Quite early on, I took the opportunity to move from the lab bench to a commercial role, which broadened my understanding of business. I have always enjoyed and got a satisfaction from doing my best to ensure the customer gets the best service from the business and the strong focus Quotient has on the customer makes it a great place for me to be.
2. As Site Head of Quotient’s Reading site, what does your day-to-day look like? What do you enjoy most about your role and why? How do you see your role evolving over time as the business grows?
As a contract service provider in Pharmaceutical development, each day brings many challenges and the process, facilities and equipment can all add further complexity to my day-to day activities. It is these varied challenges that I enjoy the most. Understanding client needs, delivering work and meeting timelines is a core focus for me, as well as the priority to ensure quality standards are maintained and continuous improvement is central to our growth. The work we do depends completely on our people, their knowledge, skills and dedication and therefore the biggest portion of my time is working with the team and supporting their development as the business grows. We have ambitious growth plans for the Reading site in the coming years and so central to everything discussed above is filling the new capacity we have by building a strong team here in Reading.
3. Prior to the Quotient acquisition in 2017, you were with Pharmaterials for 10 years. Since the Quotient acquisition, what additions and improvements have been made to the facility to better support our client’s needs?
2018 to 2019 saw significant investment in the site post the Quotient acquisition. We have an additional nine GMP manufacturing rooms, which were commissioned at the end of 2018. Taking the site to 12 rooms in total with the addition of a dedicated dispensary area and increased ambient and refrigerated storage. In addition, we have added new equipment such as a Hot Melt Extruder, roller compactor, additional Procept spray driers, and many smaller pieces of equipment to improve our capacity and efficiency. Our analytical team are also rapidly growing and additional equipment investments have been made in these areas to build both capacity and techniques.
4. With all this expansion in facilities comes a need to continually increase headcount. How much has changed in terms of number of employees at the Reading site before the Quotient acquisitions up until now? What roles are we trying to fill the most? What should qualified candidates know about joining the Quotient team and what can they look forward to at our Reading facility?
Across the site our different functions are growing, overall we have increased by over 40% in the last 2 years going from around 50 to 73. The majority of these new members to the team are in manufacturing and analytical but our formulation, Quality Assurance, and project management teams are also all recruiting. I would like to think that the Reading site is currently an exciting place to work, because with growth comes change and opportunities and with every project being different, it’s a great environment to learn quickly. The site is also a nice size in that we can all still know each other and I believe the team really embrace working together and supporting each other, whether to share knowledge, workload or pull together to solve a problem.
5. Local pharmaceutical companies still represent a good portion of the clients that come through the Reading location. How do local biotech/pharmaceutical companies benefit from the collaboration with a development and manufacturing company on their doorstep?
Modern communication tools are great and really improve our client interactions. However, there is still nothing better than a face-to-face meeting to get to know your clients and also on many occasions it is really helpful to be able see something in the lab or discuss data and ideas around a table as a team. We always encourage clients to visit and if they are local, we can benefit together from the above more easily.
6. Formulation Development and Clinical Trial Manufacturing of oral drug products are two of the services that the Reading site specializes in? How do these services fit into the whole drug development pipeline for the client?
Getting IMP manufactured as planned is critical to our clients’ project goals. Onsite, we have a full development service, from initial selection of solid form, through formulation development, stability and analytical method development and the formulation team will transition to the first GMP batches to ensure rapid manufacture and successful release of those critical supplies.
7. The Reading site is also Quotient’s hub for preclinical development services. Can you elaborate on the service offerings that are available and the wealth of scientific expertise that the employees possess?
The founding origins of the Reading site were in pharmaceutical materials science and we have retained and developed these capabilities over almost 20 years. At the start of preclinical, it is important to establish the correct solid form and understand the characteristics of the compound since this information can help steer the future formulation direction to ensure pitfalls are avoided. As part of this package the compounds position in the DCS (developability classification system) is supported. As we move into formulation, we provide prototypes, which can be used to support the preclinical PK and toxicology work as required and many of these formulations are enabled to overcome solubility issues.
8. Another speciality offering at the Quotient’s Reading facility is the ability to develop and manufacture inhalation programs. Could you give me some background on our inhalation capabilities, the equipment and technologies that we possess? And how do we approach inhalation programs in order to ensure clinical success for our clients?
Over the past 10 years, the site has built a team dedicated to inhalation development and as well as the specific skills needed we have invested in dedicated equipment for low dose blending and encapsulation. The Materials Science offering is also key in this development, with the need to understand particle properties central to a successful formulation. Our analytical team are experienced in the specific techniques for these products and we also have the capability for the complexities of packaging products, which often need aluminium blistering to protect the product from moisture and kiting the drug product with a device.
9. What do you think is one of the biggest successes coming out of the Reading site?
I have seen the site grow from an empty shell to the current operation across two buildings and many of the team here today were also here for that journey. I would like to think that the team is the biggest success and alongside this is the non-silo set up; different experts working together to progress successful projects.
10. What can clients expect when bringing a project to Quotient’s Reading facility?
Open, honest working relationship with a team who strive to deliver for our customers. We aim for communication to be central to our offering, so as well as the technical capabilities of our scientists, we invest in a strong project management team, who provide a clear structure for communication with our customers and importantly also ensure that the internal teams deliver to the highest possible standard.