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Couple Finds Love and Career Path Thanks to USciences

By Katherine Tancredi

pill filled with hearts

CHRISTOPHER VENA BI’05 and MARIE WINDSTEIN VENA PharmD’07 will never forget their freshman year at University of the Sciences. Not only did they both live in Goodman Hall, but they also took several classes together, including chemistry. The chemistry between the two of them permeated well beyond the classroom, as the two started dating and eventually married in 2009.

The couple, who live in Woolwich Township, New Jersey, with their two children, has USciences to thank for bringing them together, as well as their love for science.

After graduating, Christopher and Marie launched their respective careers in the sciences. Marie currently works as a staff pharmacist at Acme in Runnemede, New Jersey. She learned of the opportunity at Acme while attending a career fair at USciences.

quoteChristopher currently works as a senior technologist in biopharmaceutical manufacturing at GlaxoSmithKline PLC. During his tenure at the company, Christopher has rotated between large-scale commercial manufacturing projects and various research and development projects. He is currently a stage owner of several chromatography stages within the manufacturing process of the production of Tanzeum®, an injectable drug for Type 2 diabetes.

As a senior technologist, Christopher monitors production through continuous process verification. When something goes wrong, he troubleshoots the problem.

“There can be lots of complex mechanical qualities to the machines and issues with quality assays (such as RP-HPLC, SEC-HPLC),” Christopher said. “You need to make sure they’re working properly and have the ability to troubleshoot any problems quickly. The ability to troubleshoot is a key component to solving problems on the manufacturing line. A scientific background is a necessity.”

Both Christopher and Marie frequently draw on their experiences and education from USciences.

Marie references information she learned in a pharmacy over-the-counter elective taught by Remington Professor of Pharmacy DANIEL A. HUSSAR P’62, MS’64, PhD’67. It was one of her most memorable classroom experiences.

“The way he explained everything was really clear,” she said. “I work in retail, so I get asked a lot by people what they should take, so it really benefited me for this field.”

For Christopher, his career as a scientist was shaped from studies with former associate professor of genetics JAMES PIERCE, PhD, and professor emeritus of classics ROBERT BOUGHNER, PhD.

Through his time spent doing undergraduate research with Dr. Pierce, Christopher gained practical lab experience and broad exposure to a variety of research techniques. His studies in philosophy and humanities with Dr. Boughner had a profound effect on his career as a scientist.

“He made you think about how some of that questioning, that scientific rationale, came from the original Greek philosophers,” Christopher recalled. “He talked about how science is heavily rooted in philosophy.”

For Christopher and Marie, their time at USciences was overall a life-changing experience.

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