October 29, 2018

Newsmakers: UConn’s Burgess eyes pharmaceutical industry innovation

Diane Burgess

Diane Burgess is no stranger to leadership roles in the pharmaceutical technology realm.

She's a past president of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, has written two books, and edited several academic journals focused on pharmaceuticals.

Her latest role in the industry is UConn School of Pharmacy's new Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology.

The five-year position is funded by a $2 million grant from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to support academic research.

As she begins her term in the post, Burgess, a Scotland native who was educated in the UK, said aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, like drug costs, are concerning. Her goals include promoting and growing pharmaceutical technology at UConn and promoting innovation and collaboration in the field.

During her career, Burgess' work has generated more than $21 million in grants.

For example, she recently received a $3 million Food & Drug Administration grant to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of manufacturing complex drug dosages through the development of continuous manufacturing processes.

Can you describe what your role will be as the UConn School of Pharmacy's Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology?

I will be continuing my research and teaching in pharmaceutical technology; helping to encourage and further develop our research faculty in this area; and facilitating teaching and research interactions with Pfizer colleagues.

What are the most pressing issues in the pharmaceutical industry today?

Focus on cost reduction, while ensuring safety and quality, work on improving and streamlining pharmaceutical processing (such as the work my lab is doing on continuous manufacturing of complex parenteral drug products) is of utmost importance.

Considering the opioid crisis, and lawsuits against some pharmaceutical companies in its wake, do you think the industry is properly regulated?

Yes, I have great faith in the Food and Drug Administration, and I know they are working diligently and with haste to tackle this issue.

How important is Connecticut to the overall industry?

The recent moves of pharmaceutical companies out of Connecticut are unfortunate, but do leave an opportunity for new startups, and I think our state should focus on attracting and retaining new pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Can you tell us something about yourself most people don't know?

I am an avid runner, skier and biker. Exercise is incredibly important for both physical and mental health.

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