July 2011

Science Focus on industry members

In this annual Science Focus feature, we profile a few of our members who are doing industrial research. 

All American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members share a passion for the biochemical sciences, but the methods by which these scientific passions are fulfilled are exceptionally varied. This is especially true among members who work in industry. From small startups that many people have not yet heard of to global biotech giants like Merck and Invitrogen and even nonpharmaceutical companies like Kraftand Coca-Cola, ASBMB scientists are making important contributions. In this annual Science Focus feature, we once again profile a small sampling of these industrious individuals to showcase the rich and diverse scope of ASBMB research. 

Nancy Robinson

Senior Director, STERIS Corporation
Mentor, Ohio

Although people generally do their best to avoid trips to the hospital, at some point in life most everyone will require a surgical or diagnostic procedure. And in those moments, we expect that both our physicians and their equipment be of the best quality.

Nancy Robinson has the satisfaction of knowing that through her work to improve methods to decontaminate and sterilize surgical instruments for reuse, the tools used in various surgical procedures will meet the patient's expectation of best quality.

“Some of my colleagues have kidded me that I had fallen from the true faith when I left academia,” Robinson says. “But that is not the case; here at STERIS I have found an outlet for my passion of solving technical challenges and my desire to achieve tangible outcomes.”

At first thought, a medical device company – as compared to a pharmaceutical company – may seem like an unusual destination for a biochemist looking for a career in the private sector. However, STERIS, where Robinson has been since 1998, is really not too different from a drug company. Both places bring together diverse scientists to solve a biological problem and bring it to market; both involve working through U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations to ensure that final products are safe and effective; and perhaps most importantly, both groups are about improving human lives.

At STERIS, Robinson carries out research in the Infection Prevention Technologies branch of the health-care business unit, which develops reprocessing equipment such as sterilizers, washer-disinfectors, high-level disinfectants and automated liquid chemical processing systems. (STERIS also has another health-care branch that offers surgical lights, tables and other equipment.)

For the past several years, her team of dedicated chemists and microbiologists, working with a group of talented engineers, has been designing and improving low temperature vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization systems called the Amsco® V-PRO™ 1 and the V-PRO 1 Plus Low Temperature Sterilization Systems. Such technology is critical for rapid reprocessing of heat-sensitive instruments that cannot handle the rigors of steam sterilization.

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