Meeting with Juliette Martin for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Seqens has decided to highlight the career path of female scientists working within the group. Meet Juliette Martin, director of the R&D center Protéus by Seqens.
What is your job as Protéus by Seqens Director?
I’m working in the industrial biotechnology sector, they are creators of value and innovation, with the aim of either finding new processes or developing new products of interest. It is a fast-growing sector, with the development of patents and innovative technologies.
My job as Director evolves according to the company’s strategy and the commercial maturity of the Research & Development activity. I am the guarantor of the smooth running and implementation of our projects. I build teams and surround myself with talented people in order to deploy our missions in Research & Development.
Depending on the projects, I contribute to the research activities, specify the business model, I take part in in the commercial aspect, prospecting industrial customers, and implementing partnerships (public or private). I also manage the operations related to the accounting and financial elements of the company.
Have you always wanted to work in the scientific field?
Coming from a family of people fond of literature and craftsmen, it is however quite naturally that I took the scientific path, which represents for me a daily source of fulfillment of creativity but also of curiosity, at the crossroads of principles and exciting logics!
The more you advance in a scientific field, the more you discover diversified scientific fields which need to be deepened generating many questions which require answers.
I also have a double culture with an English mother and a French father, so adaptation is a must! I have therefore chosen to be at the interface of chemistry and biology.
What is your training and career path?
I followed a mainly university course. I obtained a PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Caen (France) in 1998, the topic was the synthesis of new chemical methodologies to design radiolabeling products for pharmacological studies related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Then, I chose to join the industrial sector. Thanks to a postdoctoral research scholarship, I joined Zeneca Life Sciences Molecules in Great Britain.
I gained experience mainly in Research and Development on new technologies for chemical and biocatalytic synthesis.
In 2006, I joined PCAS (ex-Seqens) as R&D Group Leader at the interface between chemistry and biology. In 2009, I was appointed R&D Manager for the PCAS Aramon subsidiary, reinforcing my skills in small molecule synthesis but also in polymer synthesis in Drug Discovery. Since 2012, I am the CEO of Protéus. The objective is to implement innovative solutions for bio-sourced and/or green chemistry processes.
Do you have any advice for women/girls who want to join this field?
“Women scientists have always had, and will always have, a strong impact for the research they conduct and the achievements they produce in industry”.
Recently, for the first time, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to a duo of women, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, for their work on their use of molecular scissors with major clinical applications. It is proof that “when women are allowed to conceive, they can do magnificent things”.
Women are still very little present in the scientific field, especially in the so-called “hard” sciences (physics, chemistry, mathematics…). We must therefore succeed in overcoming some barriers and clichés.
Personally, I have been lucky, I was educated in the respect of my desires, allowing me to develop freely in the field of science…and therefore far from stereotypes.
Don’t impose any limits on yourself. Look for what interests you and pursue your career in that direction. But, say to yourself: “Not everything is possible…but nothing is impossible! ».
It is also by giving a voice and visibility to female scientists that we can promote and foster the development of young girls and women in science. Already, many initiatives already exist around associations, support networks if need be …
Tell us about a project you are proud of.
During my doctoral training, there was always the question of the desire to remain in fundamental research, or to teach in order to share knowledge, or to move into applied research. I have carried out work during my thesis leading to publications, taught students in chemistry preparatory classes, but I also led an applied research mission in a pharmaceutical company.
This company had been producing for nearly two years an active ingredient that was encountering conformity defects, preventing the release of industrial batches, and therefore the sale of this product. In order to solve the problem, it was necessary to carry out an experimental design methodology, to explore more finely the experimental conditions and to find the root cause. Initially, this methodology was not part of my university curriculum, this led me to follow, in parallel, specific courses, in order to understand and immerse myself in these new approaches. After a few months, by implementing test plans, I was able to identify and solve the problems of the process. As a result, a new process was adapted to the industrial scale that I followed day and night… leading to the successful implementation of the new conditions, the revenue of this active ingredient represented more than one million euros! It is this success that definitely convinced me to continue in the industry.
Learn and dare!
Women scientists have always had, and will always have, a strong impact for the research they conduct and the achievements they produce in industry.