March 26, 2008

Richard Osifchin ’86 Shares His Experience with Martha Were ’09

Director of global pharmaceutical commercialization at Merck hosted an interim-session externship

Richard Osifchin ’86 is the director of global pharmaceutical commercialization at Merck&Co, Inc. in Rahway, N.J. Over the January interim session, he served as an externship host for Martha Were ’09 (Kampala, Uganda), who is majoring in chemical engineering, as a part of an externship program offered by Career Services. The following is a first-hand account of Osifchin’s experience.

  • Martha Were ’09 Explores Chemical Engineering in the Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Richard Osifchin ’86 Impacts Healthcare Issues

Martha Were ’09 completed an externship with me at Merck &Co, Inc. in Rahway, N.J., this past January. During her visit, Martha spent time with chemical engineers and chemists in the R&D and commercialization laboratories and pilot plants learning about the application of engineering science in the pharmaceutical industry. Martha embraced the opportunity to meet and work with the Merck scientists, and through her experience hopefully gained a better understanding of the many and diverse career opportunities available to her today as a chemical engineer.

Martha’s week at Merck was structured such that she would complete six mini-externships in various groups on the Rahway campus. The Rahway site is focused on research, development, and commercialization of new pharmaceutical products and specifically new active pharmaceutical ingredients. I assembled Martha’s schedule to include time in the laboratories and pilot plants that support synthetic process development and manufacture of clinical supplies, as well as time to work with scientists in the bioprocess area, working on natural product isolation and therapeutic proteins. Throughout the course of the week, I tried to provide Martha with a better sense for the opportunities that exist for a chemical engineer in the industry, a better understanding of how the information learned in the classroom at Lafayette can be applied in practice, and the impact a young engineer can have in their career.

This was the first year that I participated as a host in the extern program and based on my experience would very much be interested in participating in the program again. Martha embraced the opportunity to visit Merck, was an active participant throughout the week, and appeared to fully realize the benefit of such a program. Hopefully she developed a better sense for what she would like to do following graduation next year. For me and the rest of the Merck staff, we very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet and host Martha. While hosting duties adds a little work to everyone’s busy schedule, I think my entire staff felt extremely positive about the experience and gratified to provide such an experience to a young engineer. For me personally, it provided an opportunity to reflect on my own career and reaffirm my choices about what I’ve done with my Lafayette degree.

  • Career Services

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