“Sometimes it can be like following a trail of breadcrumbs.”
That’s how Stephen Laroux, a senior scientist in foundational immunology and early discovery at AbbVie, describes the process of identifying a potential new target.
“It’s iterative, it always is. You start with a problem. You ask, ‘how do I approach this problem?’ You find a clue. You mentally pressure test it. If it seems plausible, think, ‘Is there precedent for this?’ Yes? Then, you have to play devil’s advocate. ‘Why wouldn’t this work?’ If the side that says it’s a good idea has more weight, then you go to the chemistry department,” Laroux says.
Since 1989, AbbVie’s 450,000 square foot Bioresearch Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A. has been home to hundreds of dedicated scientists working in the fields of immunology and biologics discovery and development. Many of these scientists are focused on early discovery, where they have the challenging task of being step one on the long road to developing a medicine. And sometimes, that first step really can be the hardest.
We spoke to six research and development scientists at AbbVie to uncover the day-to-day challenges they face, and what inspires them even on days when those challenges seem insurmountable.