As a developmental scientist at Leidos, Rachel Beyer provides support to the National Cancer Institute Surgery Branch, a pioneering laboratory in the field of cancer immunotherapy (the use of the human immune system to treat cancer).
Her specific role is to ensure that patient cells that have been modified in the laboratory are safe for infusion into the patients. She coordinates and manages the testing required for safety by the FDA, and she investigates potential alternative ways to modify a patient cell in the lab, which may be more safe than what is currently used.
“I am part of a large team that conducts first-in-human clinical trials to investigate new therapeutic options in immunotherapy,” said Beyer. “We are always looking for ways to improve the process of engineering cells for immunotherapies as well as ensuring the safety and rigor of the processes since these are the patient’s cells that are modified and administered back to the patient.”
Beyer first joined NCI/SAIC Frederick (now Leidos Biomedical Research) as an intern 18 years ago thanks to a connection through her biochemistry instructor, who worked at NCI. She has now worked with Leidos for 18 years in several capacities.
Beyer is also an assistant professor at Hood. She uses her Leidos Biomedical experience as a teaching tool, and as a thesis adviser, she learns about a lot of different fields.
“I have heard from many students over the years that the real-life examples and broad first-hand research experiences that I can draw from for lecture material are exciting and appreciated.”