As a pharmaceutical chemist, Yen-Len Chen has been working to save lives for over ten years.
With a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chen performed her postdoctoral research in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota. Chen joined Boston Scientific in 2004 and is currently a Senior Research Fellow and also manages the Pharmaceutical Sciences group in the Intervention Cardiology Division., Since joined BSC, she has worked on Taxus Liberte, Taxus Element, PROMUS Premier, Ranger drug-coated balloon, Eluvia DES SFA, and SYNERGY.
The Edison Awards recently spoke with Chen about her interest in science, what its like to be a female scientist, and how her company is leading the way in innovation. Here’s what she had to say: (edited for brevity and clarity)
When did your interest in science begin?
I grew up in a rural area, and we had few toys, and extracurricular activities did not exist. Thus, we filled our days by exploring nature and building contraptions. These experiences inspired curiosity in sciences and forced development of problem-solving skills.
What was it like to be a woman studying in your field?
I think the dynamic and culture of my experiences in academia and work tended to look past gender difference and focus on the value of a person’s ideas and accomplishments. As many female scientists, we are in the fields with more men than woman, we all have faced challenges at some point in life, but I think it made me more mindful when I hired and managed people later on.
What do you like about your field and what you do?
I am a firm believer in that we do make a difference. I have many opportunities visiting the Cath lab and interfacing with physicians, and I got to see firsthand how the devices we developed helped patients, which is the extremely rewarding and satisfying.
How is your company bringing innovation to the forefront?
BSC has always had a strong commitment to improving human health, where meaningful innovation is vital to the growth of BSC business. It is our culture and a core value. We try to stay connected with physicians, who care for patients and see the clinical areas that should be addressed. We also have individuals, who continually identify emerging technology in start-up companies and academia. The critical step is evaluating technological innovation in the context of patient needs.
Innovation is certainly not limited to R&D, as it cuts across every aspect of business such as manufacturing process, regulatory, clinical, etc. BSC has provided many venues to encourage innovation. As just one example, every year we identify “Imagine IF” projects to fund break-through ideas.
What do you feel is your greatest success so far?
The greatest accomplishment was the successful launch of the Synergy drug-eluting stent, a product many of us worked so hard for years. We have a team of chemists and engineers, who literally redesigned all the key features of DES and everything converged together to produce a DES with outstanding performance.
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