Senior Scientist at AstraZeneca

Feb 27, 2024
Senior Scientist at AstraZeneca

Leonardo Leon, PhD, works as a senior scientist for AstraZeneca where he is part of a team that evaluates oncology drug targets and novel therapies.

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

In 2013, I received my PhD in Pharmacology/Toxicology from UC Davis. After receiving my degree, I moved to San Diego to continue my scientific training. I had the opportunity to work in the laboratory of Dr. Gustafsson at UC San Diego were I explored the role of the protein MCL-1 in mitochondrial dynamics, which has greatly shaped my career to date.

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

I have had the great privilege to work for AstraZeneca for over 3 years now. Astrazeneca strives towards industry-leading growth across our therapy areas by creating next generation therapeutics using an array of drug modalities, while also progressing our sustainability strategy across the three integrated priority pillars of access to healthcare, environmental protection, and ethics and transparency.

How did you first learn about the company?

I had a strong desire to pursue a career in the oncology pharmaceutical industry during the time lapse AZ had an exponential growth in the oncology therapeutics field, which obviously caused AZ to be on my radar. However, conversations with my soon-to-be boss during the interview process at AZ, gave me a good of sense of the strong leadership and guidance I would be given, as well as, as an understanding of the company’s values, which resulted in my acceptance of the position offered.

What do you like most about the company?

There are many things I enjoy about working for AZ. However, if I had to chose one, I would say it was the opportunity to explore therapeutic approaches and targets I had been fascinated with during my educational training. Being able to take scientific knowledge, which was at first academic, and then exploring it as a therapeutic approach was extremely satisfying and rewarding.

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

My current position allows me to continue performing experiments on the bench which is something I truly enjoy. Having that opportunity to ask interesting, important scientific questions, while also being able to follow them up through experimental design, approach, and execution continues to motivate me to perform my best efforts.

How do you define success?

Success to me is when you accomplish the goals you have set for yourself. However, in order to continue on a successful career path it is important to renew your ambitions and strive for new goals to maintain that motivation and desire needed for personal growth.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

The constant interaction I have with very smart, creative, and talented people all working towards improving our current therapeutic strategies for combating complex and harmful diseases.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers?

I would advise them to constantly be increasing their network. Having input and interaction with a vast diversity of people in the field allows you to better understand the culture of various pharmaceutical companies, and figure out if that environment is ideal for your personal growth. Furthermore, it can help you better delineate and iron out the career path you wish to pursue if still uncertain. The more questions you ask, the likelier it is to have those questions answered.

What book did you read last?

Technically, the last book I have read is The Yogi Book: “I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said” since I go back to it often for when I need a quick laugh.