Wendy Liang

Pre-DHC expertise?

Early and pivotal stage process development for autologous CAR-T and TCR therapies.

And you're our first Singapore-based Consultant! Tell us about that.

I’m ecstatic to be DHC’s first hire in Singapore and I’m looking forward to supporting our growing base of APAC-based clients!

I’m relatively new to Singapore (October 2020). I’m thoroughly enjoying the food, architecture, and unique culture (shout out to Singlish) here!

(Updated to add: in January of 2022, Wendy moved back to the States, but she’ll always have a place in our hearts as our first APAC-based Consultant!)

How did you end up working in cell and gene?

My flow cytometry experience led me to an analytical role at Juno Therapeutics (now Bristol Myers Squibb). At Juno, I got to see first-hand the promise of our therapies for patients, and I quickly realized that this was the right field for me. I developed an interest in Juno’s drug product manufacturing processes and when an opportunity came up for me to join the process development team, I took it! I ended up loving process development and spent the next several years working on process development of early and pivotal stage CAR-T and TCR therapies.

What's the first science-related memory that you have as a child?

One of my first science-related memories is being in 5th grade and feeling confused about what science was. I didn’t understand how each science lesson related to the next – why were we comparing leaves one week and then extracting a strawberry’s DNA the next? 10-year-old me perceived science as disjointed chaos. Adult me appreciates how wide-ranging the field is!

We're seeing people choose to move over to cell and gene from traditional biologics. What would you say to someone who is considering doing so?

I don’t personally have a background in traditional biologics, but from my (armchair) perspective, I think having that background can be a great asset. There’s definitely overlap in the processes and goals of biologics/C&GT, so it’s invaluable to have people who can leverage knowledge/technology from the biologics industry and apply it here.

What do you find that you value in a career?

I find the prospect of bringing novel therapies to patients very motivating. One of the worst things that a sick patient can hear is that they have no treatment options. Cell and gene therapies have amazing promise in helping patients with a wide range of indications, and I’m excited to support DHC’s customers in bringing their products to market for the benefit of patients!

One of your specialties is process development. What are some trends you're seeing in that area?

A trend that I see is process monitoring using in-line process analytical technologies configured for cell and gene therapy systems. Currently, process monitoring is often done with manual sampling, which requires significant manpower and scheduling resources but yields relatively few samples over the process duration. The use of in-line process analytical technologies can reduce the risk of contamination introduced by sampling and increase the amount of sample data collected during the process duration, ultimately increasing process understanding.

If you had to come up with a metaphor for the process development side of things, what would you say?

I think that the goals, drivers, and execution of process development for CGT are similar to those of many disciplines.

I’ll use baking as an example. Let’s say you make fantastic cupcakes. You want to sell them in stores across the country, but you’re only making them once a year right now because:

  • The cupcakes only turn out right when baked in your grandma’s oven
  • The cupcakes only turn out right when you mix the batter by hand
  • The ingredients are expensive

The challenges of this hypothetical baking scenario aren’t that different from challenges we see in CGT. You have an end-product that you like, but the current manufacturing process isn’t as robust (reproducible, scalable) as you need. To design a more robust process that can help you achieve your goals, you need to better understand your manufacturing process, leverage automation, and explore opportunities for raw material cost reduction.

To successfully optimize and implement manufacturing processes, process developers need to collaborate with groups such as manufacturing support, analytical development, and quality. At DHC, we have a whole “stable” of people with experience that crosses over the entirety of the cell and gene experience.

What are some interests you have that are separate from work?

I really enjoy geography-related reading and entertainment (I highly recommend the Geography Now! YouTube channel). My husband and I also enjoyed biking around Singapore together when we lived there.

Wendy in blueberry farm

“Here I am at Mountainview Blueberry Farm in Snohomish, WA in August 2020, shortly before I moved to Singapore. I highly recommend this farm if you’re in the area!”

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