This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 955756.

Interview with Kristian Beran as part of the InPharma on-the-job interview series

Kristian Beran, is currently conducting research on biopharmaceutical profiling of novel active pharmaceutical ingredients, including the assessment of their developability as oral dosage forms, within the InPharma project. As part of his individual project, Kristian spent the first 18 months at Janssen Pharmaceutica NV in Beerse, Belgium, before transferring to Fraunhofer ITMP in Frankfurt, Germany, for the rest of his PhD. InPharma is a European Industrial Doctorate (EID) project that brings together academic institutions and industry partners to provide the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) interdisciplinary training and research opportunities by spending at least half their time in industry. As part of our InPharma on-the-job series, we have organised short interviews with our ESRs to better understand first-hand what a working within an industry-focused doctoral training program looks like.

Kristian at the Fraunhofer Labs

Can you provide an overview of your current research project?

My research focuses on characterizing the potential of novel active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to be absorbed from the human gastrointestinal tract after oral ingestion. This assessment is crucial for determining the suitability of developing standard oral dosage forms or the need for specialized formulation techniques to enhance dissolution and absorption in the gastrointestinal tract and thereby ensure therapeutic efficacy.

For this purpose, I’m applying and evaluating different tools, focusing on early research stages in drug discovery and development. Specifically, I’m comparing lab-based in vitro tests with in vivo absorption studies in rats to ascertain whether in vitro experiments can yield comparable or even superior results to animal experimentation. The ultimate goal would be to demonstrate that animal testing for formulation development can be reliably reduced, or even replaced by suitable in vitro tools in this research domain.

A key focus of my project is to apply and advance the refined Developability Classification System (rDCS), an in vitro drug classification system, which can be used to assess the development risks of APIs.


What does a typical day in your research project look like?

As a PhD student in pharmaceutical research, the rhythm of my day is mainly dictated by the demands of my research project, which can shift from planning experiments to conducting them or sharing results. Generally, each day presents new challenges and opportunities for growth!

When it’s time to plan experiments, I start by diving into literature and consulting with my supervisors. We brainstorm ideas, review literature, and strategize on the best approach. This stage requires careful planning to ensure the experiments are well-designed and address our research questions effectively.

During experimental phases, I’m constantly multitasking – from preparing and starting the experiment to monitoring the progress, troubleshooting issues and reporting observations. Each step requires precision and attention to detail to produce reliable and high-quality results. Due to sometimes long hours and occasional setbacks, motivation and time management become critical aspects. There are days when I find myself skipping lunch breaks or postponing meetings to stay on top of my tasks. Flexibility is essential as unforeseen challenges often arise, requiring quick adaptation to keep the experiments on track.

Once the experiments are completed, the focus shifts to data analysis and interpretation. This involves running analyses and collaborating with colleagues to make sense of the findings. Communicating our results is equally important, whether it’s through presentations at conferences, writing papers, or discussing progress with my research team.


What benefits do you see of spending half of your doctorate in the non-academic sector?

Spending half of my doctorate in the industry offers several practical advantages. Firstly, it grants me access to cutting-edge equipment and a wide array of experimental techniques, enhancing the quality and scope of my research. Additionally, collaborating with specialist groups across different research sectors provides valuable insights into interdisciplinary practices, making it excellent preparation for future work. Importantly, the industry facilitates networking opportunities to build connections with industry professionals and enhancing career prospects. Overall, this experience provides a practical advantage compared to other PhD students and prepares me effectively for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.


How did you find your training within the industry-focused doctoral training program?

I found my training within InPharma to be valuable and comprehensive. The program offered a variety of training opportunities, including annual network meetings, yearly workshops, and monthly virtual meetings. These sessions covered a wide range of topics, including scientific skills enhancement, soft skills development, and even translation of research into a business case.

One notable aspect of the training was its focus on both scientific and non-scientific skills. Not only did we deepen our understanding of scientific concepts and methodologies relevant to our research, but we also honed our communication, teamwork, and project management abilities.

Additionally, the program prioritized ethical considerations, particularly concerning animal testing in pharmaceutical development. We participated in a course at a university in Dublin (UCD), which provided valuable insights into the ethical implications of our research and underscored the importance of the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement (the 3Rs).

Overall, the industry-focused doctoral training program equipped me with a well-rounded skill set and a strong ethical foundation, preparing me effectively for the challenges and opportunities of a career in the pharmaceutical industry.


What are your plans for the remainder of your studies within InPharma and beyond?

For the remainder of my studies within InPharma and beyond, I have several key objectives and aspirations. Within InPharma, I aim to complete my research project with rigor and excellence, striving to make meaningful contributions to the field of biopharmaceutics. At the moment, this primarily involves conducting final experiments and disseminating findings through publications and presentations.

Beyond InPharma, I envision furthering my career in the pharmaceutical industry. I am eager to apply the skills and knowledge gained during my doctoral studies to tackle real-world challenges and drive innovation in drug development. Whether in research and development, or any sector within the versatile industry, I am committed to making a positive impact and advancing patient care.

Additionally, I plan to continue my professional development through ongoing learning and networking opportunities. This may involve attending conferences, participating in workshops, or pursuing additional certifications to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field.

I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and am committed to embracing new challenges and opportunities as I embark on this journey.