Jobs

‘We're all a bunch of weirdos doing our stuff’

5 questions with Charles Sanders of XBiotech
Martina G. Efeyini
May 20, 2022

Charles Sanders talked to ASBMB Today about his experience working on biopharmaceutical products at XBiotech, where he started as a research associate in March, and Grifols, where he worked for more than three years after earning his bachelor’s in biochemistry. This interview has been condensed and edited.

Charles Sanders

Current position: Research associate II at XBiotech

Career path: Bachelor’s in biochemistry, Texas State University

First job outside of academia: Testing technologist at Grifols

Favorite molecule or protein: "I actually do have a favorite one because I love its name. It's polytetrafluoroethylene. I just like the way it rolls off."

What made you decide to focus on products?

Both Grifols and XBiotech manufacture medicine, and I enjoy pharmaceuticals. I just really enjoy helping people. I’ve been wanting to make medicines for a long time. I feel like it’s a good contribution to the world. Before I was part of it, but now I’m really part of it because I’m in the research department at XBiotech. I actually get to start everything and test things out.

Grifols is one of the largest producers of plasma medicines in the world. Tell me about your work there as a testing technologist.

It was an entry-level position. There are people who have been there for forever. Also, there are people coming later in life. But generally they like to hire people straight out of college.

We would take the plasma that got sent to us. We would screen it using different biochemical assays, like the ELISA. We had something called the C8000 that would test for total protein concentration and concentration of alanine aminotransferase as a test for donor liver health. We also tested for syphilis and rabies — all kinds of fun stuff.

You have a new role at XBiotech as a research associate. Tell me about that.

I’m still in the training phase. I have to find out where everything is and exactly what’s going on, but I've become pretty independent. I’ve been doing mostly gel runs and western blots. Basically, doing protein analysis, checking for different proteins, and seeing if antibodies will bind to them because we’re looking for specific things.

There’s different departments: There’s cell lines — they do all the cloning. There’s biochemistry, there’s animal models — all kinds of teams — but I’m specifically in the in vitro testing.

I feel at home. We’re all a bunch of weirdos doing our stuff.

How did you wind up at XBiotech?

I think the three years of experience I got at Grifols really helped me, and I think that’s what got me drafted to this position. I did undergrad research, and the scientist who leads my team recognized my principal investigator’s name. And then he saw what I’d been doing at Grifols.

He said that, because of COVID-19, most people were doing their master’s degrees online, but they don’t have any actual research experience. So I outranked a lot of master’s students because I have real-world experience. So, I think it was all worth it.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in industry?

Do it if you want to experience the world. I think you should explore the world and learn how the Food and Drug Administration works and good manufacturing practices.

If you want to stay in academia, you can do that. But I actually think academia is more stressful. I felt like, if I just stayed in academia, I’d be losing potential to learn the world.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Martina G. Efeyini

Martina G. Efeyini is a science communicator, STEM education advocate and careers columnist for ASBMB Today.

Featured jobs

from the ASBMB career center

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in Careers

Careers highlights or most popular articles

Learn, reflect and lead
Annual Meeting

Learn, reflect and lead

Sept. 26, 2022

This symposium, Educational Professional Development, will be part of #DiscoverBMB 2023 in March.

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities
Announcement

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

Sept. 25, 2022

Happening this week: The #DiscoverBMB abstract and travel-award system opens! Fast-track your abstract and get a decision in two weeks.

Purpose and gratitude boost academic engagement
Education

Purpose and gratitude boost academic engagement

Sept. 24, 2022

“This study adds to a growing body of research that suggests having a deep sense of life purpose is important for people’s well-being, success and ability to cope with challenging life situations,” the author writes.

Following a passion for science — away from academia
Jobs

Following a passion for science — away from academia

Sept. 23, 2022

Brittany Leigh does public relations for life science companies.

What is better for your career than a publication? A preprint.
Essay

What is better for your career than a publication? A preprint.

Sept. 22, 2022

“Depositing a paper outside of an academic journal allows an author to start promoting the work immediately,” Ken Hallenbeck writes.

Computation is the new experiment
Annual Meeting

Computation is the new experiment

Sept. 20, 2022

This symposium, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Structural Biology, Drug Design and Systems Biology. will be part of #DiscoverBMB 2023 in March.