Pirthipal joined ICI in Dec 1978 (Natural Products Group) as an Experimental Officer, after graduating in Biochemistry from University of Leeds. He developed a range of radioligand binding assays and subsequently established the concept of high throughput screening, by introducing the 96-well mictrotitre plate-based assays. Overall, he worked at the Alderley Park site for nearly 30 years, during the demerger (ICI + ICI + Zeneca) and re-merger (Astra + Zeneca + AstraZeneca) phases, by providing support in assay development and assay trouble shooting across all therapeutic areas, working with his colleagues in the project teams, covering most research sites, in a global manner.
He was actively involved in assay technology evaluation and deployment within the HTS group (SPA; Amersham and HTRF; Packard) and project teams, where appropriate, through effective training of research staff. His training role extended to running workshops with new graduate students, as well working with research staff. Regarding sandwich students, this also involved direct line management of their research projects.
He worked extensively with vendors to identify further development of reagents / detection systems, through collaborative projects to evaluate their prototype products in ‘real’ assays and a variety of ‘test compounds’ to help validation. In some cases, this involved working on projects at the ‘leading edge’ of technology development. During the latter part of his career, the focus of his work was in the kinase area, relating to the development of novel assay formats and technologies; working with AZ colleagues and external vendors, in a collaborative manner.
During his time at Alderley Park (particularly the first 20 years; working in the HTS group), he was an active member of the SBS, where he ran workshops and on-line tutorials. Subsequently, he was recognised as an expert in the kinase area and related assay technologies. He was regularly invited to present his findings from the assay technology evaluations, at various international conferences. Some of this work was also submitted for publications. Furthermore, Pirthipal was the first Bioscientist to be appointed as an Associated Principal Scientist, at AstraZeneca, Alderley Park.