Process Development Scientist, Amgen

Nov 21, 2023
Process Development Scientist, Amgen

An alum of the 2017 SMDP Biotech Scholar cohort, Monica Perez-Cuevas, PhD, is a Process Development Scientist at Amgen. As a Process Development Scientist, Monica establishes robust formulations and manufacturing processes to support late-stage development of synthetic drug programs.

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

I have a PhD in Bioengineering and an MS in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from Georgia Tech. Before that, I got my BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). My research focus has always been in the drug delivery space, and I pursued internships in manufacturing and process development throughout my studies. Trying things through short term opportunities like internships helped me learn about what kinds of jobs I was drawn to, and having mentors was key to identifying blind spots and opportunities for growth.

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

Amgen in Thousand Oaks, CA. Amgen is perhaps most known as a biotechnology innovator, and currently serves the areas of cardiovascular disease, oncology, bone health, neuroscience, nephrology and inflammation through its biologic and synthetic therapies.

How did you first learn about the company?

I remember attending a seminar on the Amgen BioTalents program at UPRM. The program is supported by our Amgen site in Puerto Rico (AML) and aims to offer a hands-on introduction to biomanufacturing. Although I ultimately didn’t participate in the program, it was great to see their support of educational opportunities for students, and served as my introduction to the great science happening at Amgen..

What do you like most about the company?

To see its mission to serve patients through all my colleagues at Amgen and the work we do. There is a very real sense of care and commitment to the patients we serve. I also appreciate the commitment to diversity and inclusion at many levels, from our company events to our leadership.

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

Although my role is technical in nature, I have found that soft skills like effective communication, presentation skills and emotional intelligence have helped me significantly. I chose this job because I knew I would get to work with terrific scientists at Amgen, but also valued the formulation development and regulatory experience I would encounter in this role.

How do you define success?

Getting to do purposeful work and living a happy and healthy life. At work, I define success as being a reliable colleague who displays managerial courage and promotes collaboration.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Having the opportunity to see a new drug product make its way into the hands of patients.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers?

Reach out to people who have jobs that interest you – informational interviews are a great way to learn about career possibilities. Show intention (and enthusiasm!) when you introduce yourself and your work. Connect your work to a why and be prepared to have multiple versions of your elevator pitch depending on your audience.

What book did you read last?

Radical Candor by Kim Scott