Scientist Snapshot | Jamie Marshall, Senior Solid State Scientist

06th Oct 2022

At Sterling, our highly experienced team members and their passion for what they do are central to who we are. This month, we spoke with Jamie Marshall, Senior Solid State Scientist at Sterling, to discuss his role and Sterling’s solid form capabilities.

Can you briefly describe your background and current role at Sterling?

After graduating from Northumbria University with a master’s degree in applied chemistry, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. I ended up working as a pharmaceutical development scientist, originally for a different CRO. This was really my first exposure to solid state chemistry, and since it was a new and different subject area to me, it was sort of a trial by fire initially. However, I found it to be really interesting and picked it up quickly. It enabled me to understand the critical implications of solid form selection and crystallisation development on the final product, which is integral to my role today.

I stayed in this role for five years, and learned a lot about solid state through hands-on experience along the way. When the opportunity came to join Sterling, I jumped at the chance, given its industry reputation and focus on innovation. I have been in my current role as Senior Solid State Scientist for two and a half years.

What might a typical day look like as a Senior Solid State Scientist?

My day to day varies but often involves a significant amount of time in the lab, from initial solid form investigations like polymorph screening and salt screening to guiding crystallisation development. It also involves looking at processes that already exist within Sterling, and identifying ways that processes can be improved and timelines accelerated to deliver advantages to our customers. I also work with our solid state team to compile proposals, and directly collaborate with customers to understand their solid state project requirements.

Analytical and quality troubleshooting is also an important part of my role. I often become involved with other areas of the business to see how solid state work can be beneficial, and I enjoy collaborating with different teams within Sterling. It enables me to see where my perspective may be helpful to others, as well as what I can learn from the people around me. This level of integration across Sterling is crucial, as we can accomplish more when we are connected together and regularly collaborating, rather than working in silos.

Can you explain the solid state team’s project approach in more detail?

We can perform solid state work as a standalone service, or as part of a larger project. For example, some customers may not be able to do full development and manufacture and come to us solely for solid form investigations. If they receive additional funding later on, they may come back to us for additional project work.

In addition, Sterling offers solid form support for ongoing projects and wider campaigns. For any projects that include final stage crystallisation, or where there is an opportunity for crystallisation mid-process, the solid state team can identify ways to streamline the process. This is where integration across our teams factors in, as we work together to optimise processes for our customers.

What are some of the challenges you encounter in your role?

Early phase solid form development can bring a lot of challenges. One of the key things to overcome is maintaining communication and transparency with the customer, even when challenges or unanticipated results arise. I find that it’s best to keep an open mind since the answer might not always be what the customer wants or expects. For example, our investigations may find that one unexpected solid form version of the API might actually be the best candidate to progress forward. We must then explain our findings to customers and offer guidance on how to proceed based on the result.

Fast Facts

ROLE
Senior Solid State Scientist

JOINED STERLING
January 2020

EDUCATION
Northumbria University

SPECIALISATIONS
Solid state chemistry, crystallisation development,
polymorph screenings, salt
screenings, material science

This level of integration across Sterling is crucial, as we can accomplish more when we are connected together and regularly collaborating, rather than working in silos.

How do you tailor projects based on the customer’s requirements?

At Sterling, our solid state approach is very customised based on the project and molecule, and it is important to note that we do not do high throughput screenings. With high throughput, there is generally a ‘one size fits all’ approach where each molecule is investigated in the same way. Our approach, on the other hand, is very much data driven, taking into account that each molecule is unique and each customer has different goals.

While there is a basic approach, considering solubility and carrying out certain screenings, our experience enables us to tailor based on what the customer is looking to discover. We consider the results of each screening in detail to evaluate what is needed in subsequent screenings. Each experiment delivers a lot of information, and our priority is to use this data to inform next steps and emphasise the most meaningful information for our customers. By consistently communicating with the customer, we can be certain we are delivering exactly what they want and need.

Customer interaction is one of my favorite parts of the job. Since our approach is so tailored, it’s critical that we maintain a high level of communication with our customers to understand what will work best for their project, and we remain very up-front throughout the entire process.

How do you collaborate with customers in your role?

Customer interaction is one of my favourite parts of the job. Since our approach is so tailored, it’s critical that we maintain a high level of communication with our customers to understand what will work best for their project, and we remain very upfront throughout the entire process. There are times when things may not look how the customer had hoped, but we always remain transparent about any challenges and work together to find ways to overcome them.

My exposure to solid form was limited until I started working in the field after university, and now it is something I love to do. Going through data, discovering key insights, and paying close attention to detail allows us to pass on information to the customer and our development team to set the project up for long-term success. Solubility data can make or break crystallisation, so what we do can have a pivotal impact on the project. I have a passion for learning everything I can about a given project, and I believe that is reflected in my collaboration with customers.

Related Content

Solid State Chemistry

API Development