Internship at Celgene Helps Chemical Engineering Student Help Others

Farzana Begum ’20 gained industrial experience that mirrored her lab work on campus.

Farzana Begum and colleagues at Celgene

Farzana Begum (second from right) and colleagues at Celgene's New Jersey campus.

When she traveled across the Bronx to attend Manhattan College in the fall of 2016, Farzana Begum ’20 knew she wanted to learn how to keep people healthy.

A native of Parkchester in the Bronx, Begum attended Queens High School for the Sciences at York College. She had a family member with an autoimmune disease and for a long time, she has been interested in how biopharmaceutical science could help treat those diseases.

Begum declared a major in chemical engineering in her freshman year, gaining a base of knowledge and skills before getting an introduction to the pharmaceutical industry with help from Samiul Amin, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical engineering, who possesses more than 20 years of experience in industrial research and development.

“Once I joined Dr. Amin’s lab, I was able to get valuable lab exposure in formulation development and advanced characterization and once I got the lab exposure, it opened several doors of opportunity,” Begum said.

High Profile Opportunities

She gave a presentation at the annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 360 Conference in Washington, D.C., in front of industrial professionals and Ph.D. students from across the country. Begum and Amin also published their work in Pharmaceutical Research, a high-impact peer reviewed journal for the pharmaceutical industry.

Begum built on her work with Amin throughout the 2018-19 academic year and secured an internship during the summer of 2019 with Celgene, a biotechnology company that discovers, develops and commercializes medicines for cancer and inflammatory disorders.

At Celgene’s sprawling campus in Summit, New Jersey, Begum interned in the biologics drug product development department, which aims to help transform the way many diseases are treated. Begum helped the team work on the formulation development of different therapeutics to assure protein stability before those therapeutics go to patients.

“I was able to learn so much at Celgene,” Begum said. “Everything that I learned in the lab at Manhattan was applicable and at Celgene, I was able to further expand upon what I learned. It was an amazing experience.”

Heading into her senior year, Begum is looking forward to her plant design class. “I wanted to take full advantage of my time at Celgene and asked if I could see Celgene’s plant,” Begum says with a smile. In addition to that class, she’ll be working on her senior design project and courses in emulsions and polymer technology, industrial practices in pharmaceutical sciences and process controls.

“It’s an amazing field,” Begum said about the biopharmaceutical world. “You get up in the morning and know why you’re going to work. It’s very purposeful and fulfilling.”

After her graduation next May, Begum plans to enroll in graduate school and ultimately pursue a doctorate degree in immunology with hopes of doing research on autoimmune disease in industry.

By Pete McHugh