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Quality Control Manager

Sylvia Sanni-Thomas

About My Job

Growing up, Sylvia Sanni-Thomas knew she wanted a career where she could somehow impact the health of communities without being involved in direct patient care. This interest stemmed from a community outreach program during her college days where she found it rewarding to be part of an effort that brought some relief to an underserved community that was battling malaria.

When Sanni-Thomas learned that the Frederick National Laboratory (FNL) addresses some of the most urgent challenges in biomedical science and public health, she knew instantly that she wanted to be a part of the FNL mission.

In her current role, Sanni-Thomas is a Quality Control Manager I within the Vaccine Clinical Materials Program.

Tell us about your work at the Frederick National Laboratory.

I supervise the Quality Control Microbiology Laboratory in the Vaccine Clinical Materials Program (VCMP). Together with my wonderful team, we oversee the environmental and utility monitoring programs to ensure that they meet regulatory standards.

The testing we perform includes monitoring of cleanroom air, surfaces, and personnel. We also perform conductivity, endotoxin, total organic carbon, and bioburden analysis.

Additionally, my team performs microbial identification of isolates recovered in the facility and provides the necessary support to different departments to maintain microbial control.

What do you enjoy about working at the Frederick National Laboratory?

I enjoy the "family-friendly" atmosphere in the VCMP. Right at the front desk, a cheerful face awaits to greet you. I like working with peers that are respectful and hardworking. I especially love that the work we do is impactful not just on a national level, but globally as well.

What accomplishment(s) at the Frederick National Laboratory are you most proud of or how has your work made impact?

I would say our responses to the Ebola outbreaks in 2014 (Liberia) and 2018 (Democratic Republic of Congo) made me very proud, being ancestrally from Africa. The VCMP manufactured and shipped thousands of vaccine vials to the clinical trial sites, and volunteer staff were on the ground to help recruit and oversee the trial in Liberia.

For the DRC outbreak, I remember how proud I felt when I discovered that the mAb114 (experimental anti-Ebola antibody) that the VCMP had manufactured was being administered successfully in the DRC. I take pride daily in the work we do here, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

What piece of advice has helped you in your career?

One word… Listen. I’ve learned that active listening is a powerful tool that encourages respect, progress, and good decision making. It also helps to establish a culture of communication which in turn leads to better collaboration.

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