In this article, we shine the spotlight on Dr Andrea Pless. Andrea joined NDA during the summer of 2021. She excels in supporting our clients during drug development of small molecules, biologics and biosimilars through all stages, from preclinical through approval and product lifecycle management with a focus on CMC.
With an impeccable eye for detail
As a young child, Andrea Pless, Principal Consultant at NDA, had a grandmother who passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Even though she was too young to understand the magnitude of the circumstances, Andrea told her family not to worry as she one day would cure cancer. 30 years later, the enigma of cancer still stands, however, this precocious child grew up and got a job with a pharmaceutical company that developed a drug that puts patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in remission. One thing is for sure, Andrea is a person who delivers on her promise.
Thanks to an inspiring teacher, Andrea fell in love with chemistry, which carried her through college and to postgraduate studies in analytical chemistry. The first company she joined was in the semiconductor industry, manufacturing microchips to make computers run faster. However, Andrea wanted something different. A greater cause.
“ Pharmaceuticals was really my passion because it's so rewarding when you can do something to actually help patients”, she explains. “To take part in finding treatments for conditions that are extremely debilitating, it could be a rare disease or something affecting an enormous number of people, such as COVID-19. Helping people is my biggest motivator ”.
Variety - a source of joy
Moving into the pharmaceutical industry, Andrea initially worked in the laboratory where she developed skills in Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC). She was fortunate to have a lot of different opportunities within the same company which kept her engaged and led to her staying longer than planned.
“ I love the feeling that everyone is part of the solution and by the end of the day it is very rewarding to work on a project that crosses the finishing line and is approved ”.
However, as analytical, and technical aspects of pharmaceutical development are the keys to keeping Andrea captivated, she chose to move on the day she felt out of touch with her technical expertise. These days, Andrea uses her robust background in CMC to help clients with regulatory compliance while expanding her knowledge and experience in other disciplines as well.
“ It’s very compelling to be at the core of regulatory demands and solutions. It enables me to help a wide variety of clients with their programs. Especially the smaller ones that do important work but might not have the inhouse resources to get them approved ”.
When details matter
Working as a consultant, Andrea has the opportunity to meet a lot of different people and see exhilarating science. She can dig into the details and help the developers move their programs forward.
“ My former managers and colleagues have always called me ‘eagle eyes’ as no details slips through. It is a trait that is very valuable to me ”.
Having supreme attention to detail is crucial in the regulatory affairs and quality space., A great deal of precision and accuracy is needed throughout the development process to ensure that pharmaceutical products are safe and can be approved for sale. Andrea holds herself to high standards and always expect the highest quality of work to be delivered. Having an occupation that is under tight pressure both from the outside and in Andrea’s case, from the inside, can from time to time become rather stressful and it is important to be able to let the brain rest. What does Andrea, who is a very high energy person, do to relax?
“ Stress is inevitable”, Andrea states, “and with my active mind I’ve never been successful at meditating or doing yoga. So, I use scrapbooking to decompress, it’s so absorbing. Once I start, I cannot think about anything else for hours.”
Even with all her experience, Andrea admits that she doesn’t know everything and loves having a team around her to ask for help whenever needed. She would never give it a second thought to reach out to someone else for help or resources. Everything she does is for the sake of a project that has potential to save or improve lives.
“ Although I wasn’t able to help my grandmother, at least I was able to help other people suffering from the same disease. That is ultimately what’s been driving me to work in this environment the whole time. I guess, in some sense, I wasn’t too off as a child ”, she concludes with a laugh.
Dr Andrea Pless