Peng Zhang, Ph. D., MD
Peng Zhang received her MD from Beijing Medical University in 1997. As she pursued this career choice, she realized that there were only limited treatments for patients suffering from a variety of diseases. She made the decision to fill this void by focusing on discovering and developing therapeutics. Peng joined the Laboratory of Geriatrics in Peking University Health Science Center and received her Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2000. Then she joined the Laboratory for Drug Design and Synthesis at the University of Maryland (UMBC) and received her PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Dr. Zhang continued her research in Dr. Amy Newman’s laboratory in Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), NIH until 2011, when she decided to begin her industry career at Pii upon a friend’s recommendation. Joining as an Analytical R&D Chemist, Peng says this was a big shift from her previous “research mindset.” Instead of the excitement of new therapeutics, how to deliver the qualified product to patients with safety and efficacy in time became the daily focus. Since then, she has held a variety of positions at Pii that have given her insight into various aspects of pharmaceutical development, including formulation early design and development, production process design and development, identification of critical quality attributes (CQAs), qualified method development and validation, quality control, etc.
Now, as a Senior Scientist, R&D Aseptic Formulation, along with her strong research experience and broad background in drug discovery – especially in the area of antiaging, anticancer, antivirus, and addiction treatments – she is proud that her effort has contributed to the treatment of patients and the therapeutic market. Dr. Zhang has led several challenging projects, like lyophilized products, highly toxic API, unstable API, products with poor solubility, high viscosity, low compatibility solvent, special clinic applications, etc. She still remembers the moment when she presents the possibility of handling an unstable API within 24 hours based on the stability analysis for her first project, not to mention the moments of reading the appreciation emails from the customer for starting the clinical trial on time and for meeting the deadline of submission.
As she puts it: “What I love most about working at Pii is that we are CDMO, a contract organization, which gives me the great opportunity to work in many different areas and on many different products. Every day is new.”
Peng’s passion for discovery and development extends beyond the pharmaceutical industry. She loves discovering new hobbies, including dancing and singing. She also helps develop young minds as a Baltimore Chinese school teacher.
Over her career, Peng has led the formulation development and formulation process development for more than a dozen aseptic products in just two years, including at least five IND or NDA submissions. She has participated in 50-plus ANDA fillings of different dosage forms and five approved generic drug launches.