The Pathway to Science: AbbVie scientist inspires next generation of innovators

Students in Christopher Call’s science class were ecstatic when the Cristo Rey St. Martin (CRSM) teacher announced: “We won’t be doing dissection today and, your lab practical is postponed until Monday.”

Instead, Call welcomed a scientist and team from AbbVie Inc., into his mobile laboratory during one of the final school weeks in May. The team from the North Chicago-based global biopharmaceutical company was there to talk about what day-to-day life is like working to develop innovative advanced therapies for some of the world’s most complex and critical conditions.

More specifically, the team discussed what it looks and feels like to develop medicines that perform well in a lab, but more importantly, enhance treatment for cancer patients and others fighting disease or chronic illness.

The goal of the morning: to inspire and energize the students to consider becoming the next generation of scientific innovators.

“People tend to think we’re in some back room laboratory doing repetitive, perhaps not the most interesting work” said Ashley Elliott, a Scientist in NBE (New Biologics Entities) Analytical R&D who works on researching and developing new oncology therapies. “But, we do really challenging things, like developing a drug for people with hepatitis C, breast cancer and others that are directly making an impact on patient’s lives. Working in the lab is never boring or routine. It’s always very dynamic.”

Ashley shared many stories about her scientific experiences both before and at AbbVie, including her work in forensic chemistry whilst a student at the University of Mississippi.

Cristo Rey students were buzzing with questions about potential careers at AbbVie, and were especially interested to learn about future internships that may be available for them while in college.

That is why CRSM is thrilled to have a partnership with AbbVie through its Corporate Work Study Program. The program provides students with a variety of opportunities to experience firsthand the working environment that may be part of their future, to encourage them to continue with their education, and to have them think through long-term professional and personal goals.