By Jack Swanson
Hello everyone! My name is Jack Swanson and this summer I interned at Pfizer Inc, where I worked with the Molecular Pharmaceutics team within the greater Biopharmaceuticals group. Molecular pharmaceutics is a branch of pharmaceutical chemistry that deals with the solubility, permeability and pharmacodynamics of drug compounds. We use a number of different strategies from chemical modification to micelle formation and complexation in order to alter the physicochemical properties of a drug compound in the body and improve its solubility, permeability and/or thermodynamic stability.
My project this summer focused on the use of cyclodextrins as complexation agents in drug delivery. In short, cyclodextrins are cyclic oligosaccharides that are able to complex with lipophilic drugs and improve their aqueous solubility by interacting with them in their hydrophobic inner cavity, while H-bonding water with their peripheral hydroxyl groups. The mechanism and thermodynamics of drug-cyclodextrin complexation is still not completely understood, and much of my job this summer was doing further research on the nature of these complexes, and exploring the theorized driving forces behind their formation such as pi-pi stacking and C-H H-bonding. While it was cool and interesting to expand my chemical knowledge and learn more about biopharmaceuticals and how drug compounds interact with the body, the most valuable part of this experience was definitely just being able to experience the way chemistry is applied in the real world and see in the inner workings of a successful company in an industry I might want to enter.
My advice to students looking for internships: Don’t be shy. A little confidence and communication goes a long way in STEM. Don’t be afraid to write that email, or send that extra personal statement, because it could be what gets you the job or what makes someone remember your name. It’s also important to remember that this is a numbers game. Most companies won’t even have a human look at your application and resume until you’ve already been flagged by their computers as a potential candidate and called for an interview. All this to say, shoot your shot, hard and with confidence, and don’t worry if you don’t get an email back, just try again and eventually something will come your way. I recommend applying for as many internships as possible on the careers page of multiple different companies.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.