Emanuèle BOURGES and Joëlle CHEUZEVILLE, USP engineers, a key role in drug production

Contrasting profiles of Emanuèle and Joëlle, both USP development engineers (cell culture processes) in Genethon’s Technology Development Department. Although they work in the same role, they each live the Genethon adventure in their own way.

One job, two career paths

Although they both graduated from engineering schools, Joëlle and Emanuèle did not follow the same paths. After two years of preparatory studies, Emanuèle went on to complete a DUT in chemistry leading to a professional degree in organic chemistry, obtained in 2009. Emanuèle worked as a chemist at Sanofi for two years before resuming her studies in engineering school until 2013. She became a research officer at Invectys and then a research assistant in bioproduction at Metafora. For her part, Joëlle joined an engineering school in Bordeaux and graduated in 2014.

In 2016, an old engineering school friend of Joëlle’s, a Genethon employee, told her about a job opening and after an initial twenty-four month placement with Bluebird Bio, she landed a position as a bioprocess engineer at Genethon.

As for Emanuèle, she joined Genethon’s laboratories in 2017 with the same goal as her colleague: “I wanted to do development and I found Genethon.” An accomplishment for the young woman who, as a child, watched the Telethon on TV every year: “I realized my childhood dream by becoming part of Genethon.”

Ten-day cycles between laboratory and office

Their days are spent between the office and the laboratory, in this key department for Genethon, a pioneer in bioproduction that uses advanced technological processes for the production of biological molecules, in particular viral vectors.

“Library research allows the monitoring of science and technology developments in order to identify new areas of work,” explains Joëlle. “In a second phase, this makes it possible to organize and plan technical experiments with the various members of the bioprocessing team,” says Emanuèle.

“We fully play our part as engineers when we have to establish a hypothesis, define techniques and implement what we have developed,” clarify the two women.

For Joëlle, “the analysis and interpretation of the results, and the checking of their agreement compared to the hypotheses, is the key to progress in a technological project.”

The last stage of their mission: writing reports on their studies to present to project leaders, pharmaceutical manufacturers and Genethon’s partners.

A pivotal role in serving the patient

One of the major challenges in bioproduction is to succeed in producing more vectors at a lower cost, purifying them to eliminate all impurities and contaminants from the cells or the process used, concentrating them and formulating them for administration to humans.

Emanuèle and Joëlle say how interesting their position as the interface in the triangle “research, development and clinic” is, but also the working in a structure such as Genethon, a non-profit laboratory. “Working in this laboratory, which was founded thanks to the efforts of an association of patients and the support of the general public, is very important, and makes us want to surpass ourselves,” says Joëlle. “And then Genethon is a small organization, which covers all the stages of drug development, without being driven by profits: this is rare,” adds Emanuèle!

This mission, rich in purpose, has been crowned with success, with 12 products resulting from Genethon’s work currently in clinical trials. A real driving force for the two young women who are doing everything they can to ensure that “the projects currently in development are completed as quickly as possible”.

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