Meet the Scientist: Julie M. Lade, Scientist in the Pharmacokinetics & Drug Metabolism Department

Mar 13, 2018 8:25 AM ET

This profile is a part of the Amgen Foundation’s “Meet the Scientists” series, where we invite students and teachers to learn more about a scientist at Amgen and the work they do to create lifesaving medicines. Join the conversation by sharing your own experiences with @AmgenFoundation and @Amgen.

What do you do in a typical day?

I am a junior scientist working in the Pharmacokinetics & Drug Metabolism (PKDM) department at Amgen for just over a year now. On a normal day, I try to best allocate my time between performing experiments in the lab, analyzing data that I or others have generated that may inform the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a candidate compound and participating in team meetings with other scientists across functions at Amgen to disseminate this knowledge to help move a program forward.

What made you want to pursue your career?

During undergraduate school, I had the opportunity to research at the National Institutes of Health as a summer intern. After graduation, I then worked as a research technician in an academic lab for two and a half years prior to pursuing a PhD in pharmacology. From these cumulative experiences, I entered graduate school knowing that I ultimately wanted to establish a scientific career in the pharmaceutical industry. I wanted to participate in research that would directly aid in the design of drugs to treat human diseases. I was forthright with sharing this goal with my advisor at Johns Hopkins University, Namandjé Bumpus, and she immediately suggested that an internship in biotech would be necessary to evaluate the research and working environment. At the end of my third year in graduate school, I interned in the Clinical Pharmacology department at Genentech. In that same year, I had met Larry Wienkers, VP of PKDM, at a drug metabolism conference during my poster presentation, which was my first introduction to a potential career opportunity at Amgen.

What motivates you each day?

I really enjoy the scientists I get to work with on a daily basis. My colleagues constantly inspire me to work harder and think bigger.

What are some exciting things you’ve done/are doing at Amgen?

One particularly exciting experience has been working with a principal scientist to support a cardiovascular disease program that is in early stage optimization. Until recently, I had no idea the level of coordination, communication and planning that is required across functions in order to select a lead compound. I look forward to contributing to the progress of this program and learning more about the regulatory process of filing an investigational new drug application with the FDA.

What was your favorite subject in school?

Science and math were always my favorite subjects in elementary and middle school. Once in high school, however, I really became specifically interested in chemistry and went on to pursue a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry in undergraduate school.

What kinds of skills do you use in your job?

I rely heavily on the critical thinking skills I developed throughout my education, particularly during my PhD, in an effort to make the most logical and informed decisions. I am also always trying to improve upon my presentation skills, as it is crucial to be able to clearly communicate your experimental results and findings with scientists both inside and outside of your area of expertise.

What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing biotech?

I think it is really important to get exposure to as much science as possible, whether that be through different classes or research opportunities offered directly at your school or seeking out summer camps and internships in either an academic lab, government or industry setting. These experiences will help to confirm your general interest in science and to demonstrate the large breadth of research that is currently ongoing. In addition, I feel that such experiences introduced me to role models that I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet and ask them how they got to where they are today and about the critical junctures in their path that led them to their current position. 

To learn how the Amgen Foundation brings biotechnology to students, visit the Amgen Foundation website. Follow @AmgenFoundation to stay up to date with all STEM-related news from the Amgen Foundation.