By Patrick Webb ’21
Joel Yoder ’22, a molecular biology/biochemistry and chemistry double major from Elkhart, Indiana, has always had an interest in medical chemistry and wanted to open doors into the field. He got his chance with his internship at AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company based in Lake Bluff, Illinois.
“The internship sounded like something I could enjoy, molecule design and I enjoy chemistry,” said Yoder.
Yoder credits GC’s chemistry classes for giving him “a lot of prerequisite knowledge to learn at AbbVie.”
“I can process new information because I have a good foundation in biology and chemistry,” Yoder said.
Yoder worked with neglected tropical diseases (NDTs), such as HIV, TV, TB, Malaria, and Leishmaniasis.
“NDTs affect a lot of people, but due to various reasons they are not super profitable to develop drugs for,” he said.
Yoder made small changes to the lead molecule to improve properties and efficacies to get towards a final “drug like” molecule. Yoder modeled the changes using modeling and computational software. He based his decisions on research in databases and literary journals.
After he designed a new compound, Yoder sent the data for a compound sample. Then, he received feedback if the changes were good or bad. If the change was “good,” they continued with that path towards a possible treatment, if it’s “bad” they experimented with new changes.
Yoder has learned a lot from his internship. Through his work he’s gained a better understanding of complex chemistry he reads in literature and confidence in his skills.
“I’ve definitely learned to look at medicinal chemistry problems from a more critical view,” said Yoder.
After graduation, Yoder plans to go to graduate school, and possibly return to work at AbbVie.
“Chemistry’s a very close knit world essentially. This internship has opened up a lot of doors,” Yoder said.