Associate Director in Upstream Development, J&J Innovative Medicines

Dec 13, 2023
Associate Director in Upstream Development, J&J Innovative Medicines

Dr. Nancy Guillen was recently appointed as an Associate Director in Upstream Development at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Innovative Medicines. She works with implementing and optimizing cell culture processes to produce therapeutic proteins. In this new role she will lead a group focusing on new product introduction and technology transfer. Recently, she was working at J&J as a Scientific Integrator with Drug Product Development of viral vector-based gene therapies before transitioning to her new role.

What is the highest degree you have earned and what can you tell us about your academic path?

I completed a PhD in Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My thesis project incorporated aspects of Cellular and Computational Biology, and it was focused on predictive models of cell death in an in-vitro liver cancer model. After my PhD, I did an industry post-doc at Boehringer Ingelheim, where I worked with transient transfection and perfusion processes for protein production. I also hold a B.S. in Industrial Biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

Where do you work now and what is your company about?

I currently work at Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicines (formerly Janssen Pharmaceuticals). Patients inform and inspire our science-based innovations, which continue to change and save lives. Our diverse portfolio spans multiple therapeutic areas — Oncology, Immunology, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary Hypertension, and Retina. Our products encompass a wide spectrum of different therapeutic modalities, including proteins, small molecules, viral vectors, gene, and cell therapies. We are continuously working to develop treatments, aspiring to find cures, pioneering the path from lab to life, and championing patients every step of the way.

How did you first learn about the company?

The name Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is very ubiquitous and was associated with consumer health products such and Tylenol, Neutrogena, several baby products, and others. However, the J&J brand no longer carries these products. The company recently decided to focus on Pharma and MedTech. The consumer health business branched off and became and independent entity called Kenvue. I first heard about a career opportunity with J&J through a recruiter who reached out to me and was interested in bringing my Gene Therapy experience to the Drug Product Development and Delivery group. Drug Product Development was a new area for me and a great opportunity to expand my skillset in the Biotech Industry. I have since gone back to working with Upstream Processes and Cell Culture, which is what I consider to be my expertise.

What do you like most about the company?

J&J provides great benefits and career development opportunities. I have been able to learn so much about different business processes across multiple areas of the company. I get to do meaningful, innovative work that I know will have a positive impact in patients' lives.

What skills make you successful in your role and why did you choose this role?

I believe my most valuable skills are having a deep understanding of meaningful data management and analysis, as well as an ongoing commitment to improve my management and leadership expertise. I chose this role because it would allow me to lead a group of scientists and engineers working to improve the way we produce advanced medicines, while influencing how we think about the data we gather and how we can use it to improve our processes and make them more efficient.

How do you define success?

Success is being able to influence decisions, having the ability to work on interesting problems and seeing positive results that come from well-developed processes. Success is also living a healthy and purposeful life, doing what you can in my little corner of this world to make it a better place for everyone to live in.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Getting to work collaboratively with a very talented, committed, and diverse group of people on developing life changing therapies.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers?

Build a network and reach out to them. If you find a job posting that you are interested in, use LinkedIn to reach out to someone who might be working closely with that group. They might help you gather more information about the job and put you in touch with potential hiring managers.

What book did you read last?

A Woman's Guide to Claiming Space by Eliza Van Cort. I picked it up at an airport on a recent trip and I found it very helpful during this phase of my career as a raising leader.