Per Ryberg takes a close look at catalysis
22 May 2012
What does your current job involve?
I hold a position as Associate Principal Scientist
working with process development at Chemical
Sciences, AstraZeneca, Södertälje, Sweden, where
I'm leading the AstraZeneca catalyst screening
team. We provide automated high throughput
screening and development of catalysts for various
transition metal catalysed reactions as a global
service to chemists within the company, worldwide.
Did you have an interest in science
Definitely. For as long as I can remember I've had a
fascination with all aspects of science and nature.
I had aquariums, tame crows, grew carnivorous
plants, and I did chemistry experiments in my
How did you decide that you wanted a
career in science?
I have always had a desire to understand why
things are the way they are, and to set up
hypotheses and design experiments to test them.
It wasn't obvious from the beginning that I should
focus on chemistry, it could have been biology or
physics, but chemistry was easy for me, and it had
the right level of detail and structure.
What motivated you to pursue
The desire to learn more, develop new areas
of science, meet other scientists and to be a
part of the scientific
What are the
learned in your
career so far?
You can't do
everything on your
own. Find out
build close contacts
both within and
outside your company.
Be open-minded to other people's way of doing
things and learn from them. Be pro-active and
take initiative, don't wait for someone to offer you
What would you say have been the key
milestones in your career?
Setting up a state-of-the-art, high throughput
catalyst screening lab at AstraZeneca, and
successfully leading a specialist team providing a
world-class catalyst screening service for internal
projects. Access to the service has enabled
chemists within the company to more efficiently
utilise catalytic methodology, leading to large
cost savings and faster progress of internal R&D
A few years ago I
developed an improved
method for palladium-catalysed
aryl halides, which for
the first time allowed this
highly useful reaction to be
performed at large scale,
under mild conditions.
I have received internal
AstraZeneca science and
technology awards, and I
received the Bjurzon award
for best PhD thesis of the
year (2002) within the faculty
of science and technology at
Uppsala University, Sweden.
What key things would a young person
need to do if they wanted to get to the
position you've achieved thus far?
Keep learning. Don't specialise in one topic too
early, try to get as much wide-ranging experience
as possible. It is perhaps not the fastest career
path, but it makes you much more complete as
a scientist, and I think it will pay off in the end.
Don't be afraid of trying new things. Set clear
goals for what you want to achieve both short-term
and long-term, and let your manager know.