In the “Magnified” series, we take a closer look at the life experiences & career journeys that have shaped AbbVie’s leaders. Meet Shuhong Zhang, our vice president of development sciences, a China native who blooms where she’s planted and brings a growth mindset to everything she does.
You’re head of development sciences within our R&D organization. What is your team’s role and goal?
My team is the bridge that transforms molecules to medicine. Development sciences collaborates with many groups, including discovery research and operations. We work with discovery research teams to evaluate, select and formulate new candidate molecules. We also support manufacturing processes to produce clinical supplies of the candidates that meet the quality and distribution needs for our clinical trial sites globally. In partnership with the operations organization, we develop manufacturing processes and medication dosage forms to support the registration, approval and launch of new medicines to patients.
It’s an exciting time in my organization. We’re doing a lot of fine-tuning and collaboration as we invent new processes and technologies to achieve our goals and advance the pipeline.
When did you know you were interested in a career in science?
It wasn’t obvious that I’d end up in science. As a teenager I was very interested in journalism because I enjoyed interacting with people and understanding their stories. I wanted to pursue that career until my high school literature teacher and mentor talked with me about the challenges I may face in China with career limitations. He suggested that I find a new field that would leverage my love of math, physics and puzzles. I thought to myself, what job has limitless potential and can tackle the big puzzles of the world – a scientist!
My five siblings and I were influenced by our parents. They built their careers around service to others, with my dad working for the government in China where I was raised and my mom as a medical doctor. They instilled in us that helping people is the right thing to do and that we needed to contribute to a broader society.