Research in the Holland Group centers on developing new miniaturized analytical separation techniques that overcome challenges to characterizing biological pharmaceuticals and complex biological markers that shed light on human disease. This research program involves the design and development of automated/high throughput separation-based assays as well as portable and cost-effective point of care measurements. Scientists with training in these areas generally work in industrial laboratories to develop new biological therapeutics, improve the manufacturing and the quality of biological therapeutics, or create new analytical instruments that support the biopharmaceutical and health care sectors.
Even prior to COVID-19 this area of biotechnology was a major sector of the pharmaceutical industry. These biologically inspired drugs dramatically improve the treatment of diseases in ways that were unachievable ten years ago. In response to COVID-19 antibody therapeutics that reduce inflammation have become pivotal in treatment and new antibody therapeutics have emerged to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. In addition, all forms of vaccine technologies have advanced in an unprecedented manner, especially the mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccines that have been massively deployed. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are focusing beyond Emergency Use Authorizations, and analytical chemists trained in biopharmaceutical analyses with capillary electrophoresis are in demand because this technique will allow them to monitor the product ensuring biopharmaceuticals meet stringent quality standards throughout the manufacturing process.
Bioanalytical chemists can make major contributions to science through individual research discoveries. In addition, they can also make significant contributions globally by working as a team member at a pharmaceutical company whose mission is to improve human health. For this reason, analytical chemists specializing in bioanalytics and biotechnologies are in high demand in the workforce. In fact, the salary of a chemist entering the workforce in different areas of analytical chemistry can be determined using the ACS salary calculator. Upon graduating, students in the Holland group generally do not seek additional training through postdoctoral positions, instead joining companies in the pharmaceutical or instrument manufacturing sectors. For analytical chemists specializing in pharmaceuticals, entering the workforce in larger companies directly out of graduate school results in starting salaries ranging from $71k to $133k, with a median starting salary of $95k.
Researchers in the Holland Group design and develop automated and point of care capillary separations. Many of these research projects utilize smart materials, which are thermally responsive, self-assembled, shape changing nanomaterials that form non-Newtonian fluids. These materials cost less than $0.76 and allow us to process, modify, and sequence complex biological samples in minutes rather than days, which are required using conventional biochemical tools for molecular assays. The projects in the Holland group involve real-time microscale enzyme sequencing of protein post-translational modifications, automated characterization of biopharmaceuticals, and new interfacing for interfacing capillary electrophoresis to mass spectrometry. We are also engaged in research challenges including developing and validating pharmaceutical methods, environmental analysis, endocrine disruption and innovative low-cost educational tools. Other research projects involve the use of acoustic energy interface capillary separations with mass spectrometry. We utilize mass spectrometry resources at West Virginia University, and as members of the National Resource for Native MS-Guided Structural Biology, we interact with the core group and access instrumentation at The Ohio State University.