For the past several years, Nancy Robinson 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.
Recently promoted to senior director, Robinson devotes much of her time to carrying out the verification and validation testing of the products and interacting with various global regulatory bodies through the submission process.
It may sound bureaucratic, but Robinson counters that it is quite interesting. “It is very rewarding to interact with both our customers and the medical device manufacturers and discuss how to improve the ease, quality and outcome of their work,” she says. “It’s also rewarding and a bit challenging to sort through the different global regulatory requirements for our products and devise strategies to most effectively meet them.”Robinson admits, though, that she didn’t envision this type of job description back when she re-entered the science workforce in 1994 following a four-year break to raise her children. Previously, she had completed her graduate studies in enzymology and done a commission with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases studying the metabolism of a small cyclic peptide toxin called microcystin-LR. (Robinson had received a U.S. Army college scholarship.)
She initially took a postdoctoral position at Case Western Reserve University – where she had also received her doctorate – to study the structure of the cornified envelope, the protective protein coating formed by the upper layers of skin. Robinson’s plan was to obtain a permanent position in either academia or industry within four years.
“To that end I was exploring teaching at local institutions, writing grants to develop independent support and reminding colleagues as they would move on to other positions to keep me in mind if anything opened up at their new workplace,” she says.
“Things were moving along, and I had just heard from a local university about a potential job when I received a call from a former colleague about an opening at STERIS,” Robinson continues. “I was leaning toward academia, but my colleague talked me into coming for a visit.”
“After my interview with STERIS, I began to lean the other way.”
While Robinson enjoyed basic research, she realized what really drove her in the lab was problem solving and that she preferred tangible solutions to discovery for discovery’s sake.
Thirteen years later, she remains excited about working in this challenging and fast-paced industry environment. “I continue to expand my knowledge base every day, I get to work with a great team of colleagues, and I can say I have never regretted my decision to join.”