Ruth Schmid is currently the Vice President Marketing at SINTEF Industry, a non-profit research institute in Trondheim, Norway, where she has been working in various positions since 1981. In her latest position, her special responsibility is to build up the area of medical technology, including nanomedicine.
Ruth Schmid is a Swiss citizen living in Norway since 1979. She gained her Diploma (1975) and Ph.D. (1979) in Natural Sciences at ETH Zürich, Switzerland. Besides her involvement in CRS (see below), she is also a longtime member of ACS. She is SINTEFs representative and at the moment the Chair of the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine (ETPN). She is also SINTEFs representative in the EARTO working group "Emerging Technologies for Healthcare". Ruth is married and has three adult children at the age of 27 to 36 years old.
Having encapsulation and controlled release as main research interest made involvement in CRS a perfect match, therefore, CRS became Ruth’s most important scientific organization. In 1998, Ruth attended her first CRS Annual meeting in Las Vegas and was at that time mostly interested in the C&DP track, which was organized for the first time as part of the main conference. In 2004, Ruth got involved in CRS and C&DP, from then on attending the monthly phone calls and engaging in programming for future meetings. Ruth has always been an active member of the C&DP Division, also when getting more involved in other parts of CRS. In 2009-2018, Ruth was a member of the Board of Directors, holding all possible Board positions: Member-at-Large, Secretary, Treasurer-Elect, Treasurer, President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President. Now, Ruth is the Chair of the Women in Science Group and a Board member of the Focus Group Nanomedicine and Nanoscale Drug Delivery, in addition to the C&DP Division. Ruth likes to exploit possibilities at interfaces between basic and applied research, between various application areas, and between academia and industry. Therefore, she likes to serve in different positions, giving her a "helicopter view" to see the opportunities at the various interfaces.
Ruth Schmid is considered as one of the pioneer woman scientists and leaders in the field of encapsulation and controlled release. Some useful insights from Ruth’s experiences are shared in the following question and answer format.
Q: What kind of research are you doing and why do you think it’s important?
A: My main research activities have always been the preparation and characterization of micro- and nanoparticles, as well as the surface modification of polymers and hybrid materials, both in bulk and particle form. The main focus has been the encapsulation and immobilization of active ingredients for protection and controlled release, using emulsion-based processes. I like to transfer generic know-how and technology from one application/market area to another and to develop generic expertise that can be transferred to several applications. Therefore, I have applied my expertise in many different market areas, e.g. medicine, cosmetics, household, and personal care products, food and beverages, industrial coatings, aquaculture, and agriculture. In the last 15 years, a special interest has been the field of nanomedicine, especially targeted drug delivery and imaging, where I have developed novel particle-based drug delivery and diagnostics platforms, but at the same time also continued my work in the other market areas. SINTEFs vision is "technology for a better society" and my research for new solutions for controlled delivery of active ingredients in market segments important for better social support this vision.
Q: What would you say is the main difference between the (encapsulation/controlled delivery industry) when you started with it and as it is today?
A: The encapsulation/controlled delivery industry started in industrial markets – agriculture, paints and coatings, food and beverages, cosmetics, household, and personal care products – where large volumes at low costs had to be produced. Therefore, production processes suited for these features were in focus. Today, health-related/medical market segments are dominating the field, requiring smaller volumes of high purity products, but also allowing higher production costs, so novel production processes must be developed. Today, research has to cover both outer limits, large-scale/low cost and small-scale/high cost/high purity processes and products, as all application fields of the controlled delivery industry need new solutions to finally contribute with solutions for all the global challenges.
Q: Favorite controlled delivery (technical) format / type / application / etc and why?
A: The solid lipid nanoparticle formulation developed for the drug delivery of RNAi therapeutics, resulting in the first-ever RNAi products on the market, is, in my opinion, one of the greatest breakthrough delivery technologies of the last years. It will open for novel treatments of many rare diseases with limited cures available and have a great impact on many patients.
Q: Favorite CRS annual meeting venue that you’ve attended? Why?
A: It is not easy for me to select my favorite CRS annual meeting venue, as I have good memories from all the meetings I have attended. I think it is not the venue, but the friends I meet every time and science, that are most important. But if I must select, I would emphasize Boston in 2017, where I was President and could enjoy "my meeting", as well as Valencia in 2019, the CRS meeting with maybe the greatest vibe and enthusiasm in the later years, as well as great science.
Q: If you had one wish for the future of (controlled delivery / controlled release), what would it be?
A: I believe in transferring of generic technology and expertise from one application to another, and I would like to see more collaboration across and learning from each other at the interface of the various application fields that can benefit from generic know-how in the controlled release field.
Q: Any particular awards you’ve received, or significant patents that stand out for you?
A: I am of course very proud of having received the Distinguished Service Award of CRS. It is an acknowledgment for me that CRS is really "MY SOCIETY" and that I have been given the possibility to contribute to it through serving in several positions. In December 2019, I was inducted as a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, a great honor for me.
Q: In your free time, what do you like to do?
A: I like outdoor sports, orienteering, and hiking during summer and cross-country skiing during winter. Being in nature as much as possible in my free time is very important to me. I also like to watch sport on TV and can get very engaged.
Q: When was the last time you experienced a perfect day and what happened?
A: My last perfect day was March 2, 2019. I was a spectator at the World Championships in Nordic Skiing in Seefeld, Austria and experienced that my son in his 18th season on World Cup level and at his 6th World Championships finally won a gold medal with the Norwegian Team in the Nordic Combined Team event. Being there and in a way being part of this, made my perfect day.
Q: What would be the hardest thing for you to give up?
A: Mobility, the ability to walk and move around.
Q: Do you have plans for after your career?
A: This question should have a very high priority for me, as I already passed the official retirement age and I am getting closer and closer to my career end, but I have not made any specific plans yet. I will definitely spend more time with my family. I also would like to travel and explore parts of the world I have not yet seen. I hope, I can visit many of my CRS friends around the globe at one point.