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    Friday, October 07, 2022

    Pfizer director played role in development of Paxlovid

    Barbara Rodríguez, director of Drug Product Manufacturing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in her office at Pfizer in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Barbara Rodríguez, director of Drug Product Manufacturing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, stands next to a tablet press in the solid dose manufacturing facility at Pfizer in Groton where they manufacture clinical supplies for potential new medicines. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton ― Barbara Rodríguez, a director of Drug Product Manufacturing at Pfizer, was interested in pharmacy from a young age, and her high school teachers nurtured that passion for science by mentoring her and providing opportunities to apply for internships.

    Rodríguez, a first-generation Cuban American, born in Union City, N.J., said her parents, who came to the United States in the 1970s from Cuba with a third-grade education and demonstrated a strong work ethic and the value of an education, inspired her to obtain her doctorate degree in pharmaceutical sciences.

    After working in factories, her father gained the skills to have a small grocery store, where he and her mother worked together. Rodríguez helped out in the store in high school and later worked in a retail pharmacy. She completed seven internships in high school and college.

    Rodríguez, 47, who joined Pfizer about 18 years ago, is part of a team of 40 people that manufactures potential medicines that are entering clinical trials. Recently, she and her team played a role to help make Paxlovid, which is an antiviral to help treat high risk cases of COVID-19, to emergency use authorization.

    “We were all very proud of that development,” she said.

    Growing up, Rodríguez said her family did not have health care, and the importance of healthcare helps drive her.

    “I saw the challenges that we went through, that others in the community went through in health care, and I know the importance of being able to bring new medicines, new treatments that aren’t available to help maintain better lifestyle and give people hope as well,” she said.

    Rodríguez is working to inspire the next generation of scientists. When her children were younger, she did science experiments, using kits provided by Pfizer, in the classroom.

    She said a diverse workforce brings in new perspectives and different experiences and ways of thinking that drive innovation.

    “Bringing your best self to work means being who you are authentically,” Rodríguez said.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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