After spending almost 10 years as WuXi client , Valdas Jurkauskas decided to join STA in July and is based in Boston. His exceptional background in chemistry and years of experience in API development and manufacturing has already proven to be a great asset to WuXi customers. We took some time this month to sit down with Val and talk to him about his perspectives, his views on WuXi, and his plan for STA going forward.
Val, we’re so happy to have you join our team in Boston! Please tell us a little more about yourself prior to joining WuXi.
Val: Thank you for having me! My expertise is in chemical process development, small molecule manufacturing, commercial process validation and regulatory filings. Prior to joining WuXi’s STA, I was at Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. At Cubist, I led the Zebaxa API process development team, enabling successful commercial process validation and worldwide regulatory filings. Zerbaxa was approved for the treatment of drug-resistant bacterial infection. Prior to Cubist, I led the Incivek API process chemistry team at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Incivek was approved for the treatment of hepatitis C viral infection.
As for education, I received my Doctoral degree in Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I carried out research under the guidance of Professor Stephen L. Buchwald. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Toronto.
Currently, I live in the historical West Cambridge, one of the oldest parts of Boston, only three miles away from WuXi’s Boston office.
Seems like you’ve had quite a bit of experience on the biotech-side (Vertex and Cubist) – what inspired you to join WuXi?
Val: As a client, I worked with WuXi’s STA team for nearly a decade. I had the privilege to witness STA evolve from a process R&D services provider to a manufacturer of worldwide marketed medicines on commercial scale. It is an honor to be part of the team which is focused on delivery of high quality services to our clients and on helping patients in all parts of the world.
It’s an honor to have you as well! Please tell our readers a bit about STA.
Val: STA Pharmaceuticals is a WuXi AppTec company. We specialize in the development of manufacturing process and the production of small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and intermediates. The name STA stands for SynTheAll or “synthesize all”. STA has been growing at a tremendous rate over the last four years. We will focus on sustaining the revenue growth by delivering high quality services and improving operational efficiency to exceed our customer’s expectations.
Sounds exciting – what can we expect to see from STA in the next few months?
Val: I am excited about the next 12 to 18 months, a period during which STA will complete several process validations and will become a commercial manufacturer of at least half a dozen marketed active pharmaceutical ingredients and advanced intermediates. It feels great to be able to help our clients deliver new medicines for treatments of serious diseases.
As a seasoned professional in the pharmaceutical and chemistry world, what do you predict will be some of the most significant developments in your field, and how may they impact better solutions for patients?
Val: A growing number of new medicines will be available to patients within this decade. Multiple media sources report that the market of APIs is expected to reach nearly $200 (US) billion by the end of this decade. Contract manufacturing will play one of the key roles in achieving this milestone. STA has a solid record of inspections and approvals by worldwide government agencies and an array of clients with late development programs and marketed drugs. Thus, STA is positioned to become a major player in the field of contract manufacturing.
Thank you, Val, for taking this time with us to share your experiences and your vision for STA’s future. As a former client of ours, we value your experiences and expertise on both ends of the WuXi-Client relationship in helping us to continue to provide effective, high-quality service to our customers.