Q&A Aug 16, 2022

Powering Progress in Life Sciences: A Q&A with Peter Cramer, AIA Subject Matter Expert and Principal Process Architect

Supporting clients to overcome challenges on ground-breaking messenger RNA projects

Peter Cramer headshot in Q&A banner graphic

With a laser-like focus on high-level conceptualizing and cutting-edge design, Principal Process Architect and Subject Matter Expert (SME) Peter Cramer leverages knowledge built up over his storied 35-year career to deliver novel solutions. We connected with Peter to find out how he supports clients to overcome challenges on ground-breaking messenger RNA (mRNA) projects that have the potential to revolutionize modern medicine.

Can you tell us about your Jacobs journey and the work that you do?

In my role as SME, I act as the high-level touchpoint for the client and advise them on how to best proceed at every stage of a project life cycle. I’m passionate about science and spend a lot of time working with the scientists on the client side to understand and support their needs. It’s an exciting role — I partner with clients who are growing and expanding and, together with my team, I conceptualize and do the drawings for each project. It’s always amazing to see a building come to life right in front of you.

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

I re-joined three years ago and am still struck by the endless opportunities that Jacobs provides. I’m an architect, but I also have a thirst for knowledge about the science behind the products and how they are made. That curiosity has helped me advance my career. Jacobs offers many paths, and my passion for science also means that I gravitate towards first-of-a-kind projects.

Can you tell us about some of the projects that you have worked on recently?

Jacobs has given me the opportunity to work on major biotech, packaging, filling and AP facilities. I’m fortunate to have developed specialisms in mRNA and cell and gene therapy, which I bring to bear in these cutting-edge projects. Right now, I’m working on a range of projects around the world, including mRNA lipid nanoparticles (mRNA-LNP), advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP), cell therapy and fill-finish. I’m also working on plasmid and large-scale monoclonal antibodies (MABs) facilities for contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) clients and a fermentation project. I’m grateful to have such a rich, diverse portfolio.

“When I reflect on the many projects I've worked on over the years, it gives me a huge sense of achievement to know that I've played a role in helping people lead happier, healthier lives.”

Peter Cramer headshot

Peter Cramer

Jacobs Principal Process Architect & Subject Matter Expert

What are the main the lessons the industry learnt from COVID-19 and how is this knowledge being applied across project delivery?

mRNA was the right solution at the right time to help overcome COVID-19. In a broad sense, the lesson learned for mRNA is “don’t give up on your ideas.” More specifically, the response to COVID-19 also spotlighted the importance of supporting research and scientific development; innovation is what sets us up to overcome these complex challenges. mRNA is a fantastic example of how learnings from COVID-19 are being deployed right now to help shape a better future — it’s developing and delivering vaccines and treatments in other areas of medicine and has the potential to revolutionize the entire drug delivery chain.

You work closely on mRNA projects. What are the main challenges when it comes to facility design and how are you helping clients to solve these challenges?

My advice is that if you want to go fast, you need to start slow. It’s about defining the problem from the outset and then building a solution from the ground up. There is a need to unpick all the challenges, needs and equipment upfront — and then room by room, deliver effective, efficient design solutions.

It must be very exciting to work in an area like mRNA that has the potential to transform manufacturing and revolutionize modern medicine…

mRNA is so new; it’s truly fascinating. I love that I’m constantly learning and it’s so rewarding to follow the science, to see what’s happening and then to leverage new discoveries to deliver a solution. In the wider life sciences field, when I reflect on the many projects I’ve worked on over the years, it gives me a huge sense of achievement to know that I’ve played a role in helping people lead happier, healthier lives. On a personal note, I’m particularly proud to have designed a facility that produces medicine that a family member uses.

As an expert in first-of-a-kind creative design, what technology and digital tools are you excited about right now?

I’m lucky to use the newest technologies to draw and design client facilities. The beauty of 3D digital solutions is that you can walk the client through the model in 3D mode from the first day of the job. More broadly, I leverage knowledge and solutions that I have built up over 35 years to solve problems I encounter on ‘first-of-a-kind projects, and that’s really rewarding.

What can the industry do to encourage greater diversity?

We need to stay on course, maintain an open mind about where the talent will come from and continue to focus on talent development. I’m a firm believer in the power of mentoring and I’ve seen its positive impact first-hand — many of the architects I’ve worked with over the years have gone on to do projects on their own. It’s vital to bring colleagues into projects early on. It’s also important to keep our colleagues inspired, so we can all continue to deliver projects to the highest standards.

People would be surprised to know that

I build cabinets and design furniture in my spare time. I started out as a carpenter and have since taught myself cabinet making. You could say that my passion for design plays a big part in my personal life too because I designed my own house! When I’m not working or designing and building furniture, I love to scuba dive and ski.

About the interviewee

Peter Cramer headshot

With over 35 years’ experience in the industry, Peter Cramer brings his cutting-edge design skills and a passion for science to every project he works on. When he’s not helping to deliver first-of-a-kind projects, Peter likes to decompress by designing and building bespoke furniture.

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