Christine Khan, Quality Support Lead

Taylor Hayward

International Day of Women & Girls in Science 2021

Can you tell us a little about your journey into science?

I have always enjoyed science at school, although it was never particularly a strong subject for me. I studied biochemistry at Queen Mary University of London, part of the Russell Group renowned for its academic excellence. I had a particular interest in protein chemistry while studying there and how this related to living organisms. In my time at the university, I worked under the tutorship of Professor John F Allen, a plant biochemist whose name is linked to the CoRR hypothesis and who showed incredible passion for the subject. I dived in head-first completing my BSc (hons) with a first class, attaining the principal prize for outstanding academic achievement. 

My dissertation was focused on the Characterisation of ATP binding-affinity of Chloroplast Sensor Kinase, using purification techniques to separate out the protein & attaching a fluorescent marker to trace binding via UV. I enjoyed the lab experience, but in particular I enjoyed the theoretical side of the lab work which required a lot of critical thinking, data analysis and report writing, and which work subsequently featured in a publication. 

Can you tell us about your current role at Astrea, what are your responsibilities?

I joined Astrea in 2014 as a Quality Assurance Officer and my current role is a Quality Support Lead, responsible for cross site support in the fundamental areas of quality.  As a Quality team we have progressed the site Quality immensely over the past few years.

Core GMP documents such as the site Masterfile and site validation masterplan have been written and maintained which knit together the critical-to-quality documents in the Quality Management System. I have particularly enjoyed developing and rolling out site processes for Quality Risk Management, Root Cause Analysis and Right First Time, all of which have become fundamental parts of how Astrea operates.

I enjoy critical and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking which can be particularly suited to my role when reviewing quality deviations, supporting any investigations and CAPA management that comes from it. My role is relatively fluid, but my primary role is to support the QA manager & Quality department in maintaining high quality standards on site which could be via quality related projects or by providing cross-site support and training as required.

More recently I have project managed the implementation of an electronic Quality Management System for quality event forms, replacing a legacy paper-based system which will have huge benefits for the company now that Astrea is expanding. This has been a challenge, but an opportunity to learn a new side of validation. With a growing company and a change in how the world is operating, computer system validation is becoming more and more critical to how many regulated industries are functioning. I am looking forward to taking some of these skills and using them to support Astrea’s future growth.

What do you find most challenging about working in science?

Some areas in science do not have much female presence, and the manufacturing industry can be relatively male dominated. This can be a challenge as there can be pervasive stereotyping and societal expectations about women’s teamwork and leadership abilities in any male-dominated sector. This is continually changing, and there are many strong, intelligent women coming up the pipeline across the industry and I am hopeful that there are many opportunities for these women if they do decide to progress. 

And finally, what do you enjoy most about working in science?

I really enjoy working in the science field and it is something that I talk passionately about.

Science is a subject where you really start to understand the phrase ‘the more you know, the more you don’t know’. It can take you down rabbit holes; sometimes getting lost, sometimes finding light, and sometimes realising there is no answer. Using logic to support decision making and being creative in the ways you decide to resolve problems shows the well-rounded knowledge of the subject. There’s always growth in science and that is why I enjoy it.

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