Preclinical Senior Scientist in Oral Formulations at Merck

Mar 26, 2024
Preclinical Senior Scientist in Oral Formulations at Merck

Mario Guitierrez, PhD, is a Preclinical Senior Scientist in Oral Formulations at Merck. As a formulation scientist, he works to optimize drug product formulations for clinical supply. He operates in a wide range of the drug product pipeline, from first-in-human early development all the way to final market formulation.

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

I earned my bachelors degree in chemical engineering from Michigan State University in 2015. Shortly after I jumped ships and joined MSU rival, University of Michigan to pursue my graduate education. I completed my Masters of Engineering in 2016. Thereafter, I continued to pursue my PhD with a research focus on vascular-targeted drug delivery and blood flow dynamics. I completed my PhD in 2021.

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

I currently work at Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway New Jersey. Merck is a large pharmaceutical company with many major disease focus areas.

How did you first learn about the company?

I first heard about my company through my search for an internship during my graduate studies. As a grad student I felt I wanted to pursue a career in industry rather than academia. I felt I would enjoy an internship in the pharmaceutical industry and it would give me a taste of the job. I specifically applied to Merck because I was drawn to the various functions of the large company. I felt I curious about pursing interests outside of my graduate research focus. I was selected for an internship program for the summer of 2020. At the end of my internship I had the opportunity to interview for a fulltime position and the rest is history.

What do you like most about the company?

I enjoy the flexibility of my current role. I also appreciate the various learning initiatives offered by Merck. There are so many opportunities for scientific and professional growth within Merck.

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

I decided to pursue a fulltime opportunity with oral formulations because I was excited about the work I did through my internship experience. Oral formulations opened up a new field I was not very familiar with based on my graduate research background. I felt that it was a great opportunity to grow and explore another exciting field. Transferable skills are key in succeeding in a new role. Communication skills will always be the most important in my opinion. In my role as a formulator I work with a multitude of different teams and functions so effective communication across these teams is critical for advancing our pipeline.

How do you define success?

I will go through phases of where I define details of success a little differently. However, I strive to always be growing and working on myself personally and professionally. I enjoy taking on challenging tasks that sometimes may not make me feel really happy in the moment, but later on when taking a retrospective viewpoint I am satisfied about the experience and knowledge gained.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

The most fulfilling part of my job is knowing I am part of a great team of people pushing forward tools to better combat illnesses. It still amazes me the incredible journey a product takes from discovery all the way to commercialization. Such a journey would be impossible for an individual to take, it truly takes a village.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers?

My biggest advice for job seekers is to be patient and persistent. Looking for a job itself is a fulltime job. Oftentimes when we hear of others who got a job our mind fills in the blanks and we assume they got a job on the first application they submitted. It is the norm to not hear about the many failed and unanswered applications of others and this leads us to be discouraged when we go unanswered. It is important to understand that the job market is incredibly competitive and hundreds, if not thousands, may be applying to single job roles. It is important to be definitive with wanting a certain career path, but don’t be so static and stubborn that it limits you from diversifying options and applying for other roles. Growth and exciting work can be found in many places!

What book did you read last?

The last book I read was “Mastery” by Robert Greene.