October 11, 2021

Morgan Giles, PhD'18, shares her experience and advice as a Senior Scientist at Merck in the Sterile and Specialty Products group. 

U-M Pharmacy: What was your most memorable learning experience or impactful faculty mentor?

Dr. Giles: Two of the most impactful faculty mentors were Dr. Greg Amidon and Dr. Duxin Sun. Both were on my committee and provided valuable insight and questions around my research to make help make my final thesis stronger. They were also helpful in sharing their experience in both industry and academia and the transition between the two as I was deciding which route I wanted to ultimately pursue.

U-M Pharmacy: What was your favorite extracurricular activity?

Dr. Giles: My favorite extracurricular activities were kayaking in the Huron river during the summer and football Saturdays in the fall. Both were great ways to relax and forget about experiments and lab work for a while and hang out with other grad students.

U-M Pharmacy: How did your fellow alumni or professional network impact your career?

Dr. Giles: When I was looking for a job the connections I had made with more senior graduate students who were alums by the time I started my job hunt was very helpful. Alums with whom I had built a professional and personal relationship with were able to send me jobs at their respective companies which they felt aligned with my research background and career interest. Ultimately I did get a few interviews through fellow alum.

U-M Pharmacy: Tell us about your current position.

Dr. Giles: Currently I am a Senior Scientist at Merck in the Sterile and Specialty Products group. I am a formulator on Specialty Products working on formulation development from Phase 1 to Phase 3, at which point the project moves into late stage manufacturing. In this role I work with analytical and preformulation scientists to characterize the product in order to optimize the formulation for our target profile.

U-M Pharmacy: How did you discover this career path?

Dr. Giles: I got into Pharmaceutical Sciences, specifically drug delivery as a career path starting with my undergraduate research at Boston University. My undergraduate research was in polymer based particle delivery of siRNA. In speaking with my undergraduate advisor about my career he suggested Pharmaceutical Sciences, which I ultimately pursued at U-M. At Michigan my research was still in polymer controlled release delivery but I gained more exposure to both the analytical testing and formulation development aspects as well as various therapeutic areas amenable to this type of dosage form. Through my time at Michigan my desire to work in formulation development was solidified.

U-M Pharmacy: What advice do you have for students interested in this career path?

Dr. Giles: My advice for students interested in this career path is to talk to as many students, professors and alum doing different areas of drug delivery as you can. Within drug development there are several focus areas from formulation to analytical to imaging to physical characterization. By talking to people you can narrow down a specific area of drug development you are most interested in. Also if down the road you realize you want to explore something else, the knowledge gained can still potentially be helpful on a future project you might have.