Jelena Ciric sees her department as a playground for chemists

For organizations in need of safety assessment for almost any kind of product, Charles River can provide it. Head of Chemistry Jelena Ciric likes to see her department as a large playground for chemists, in which they solve complex puzzles. And not unimportantly, it’s a great place for students to launch their career. “Here they can see everything they were taught in action.”

Jelena Ciric werkt bij ATBC-partner Charles River

Whether it’s medicines, agro-chemicals, pesticides, polymers, novel food or even some medical devices, and whether the safety assessment concerns parameters like water-solvability, aquatic toxicology or environmental fate. The chemistry department at Charles River has the technological equipment in place to perform meticulous testing on all kinds of compounds.

Complex puzzle

The extent of the possibilities is part of what makes Jelena Ciric, Head of Chemistry at Charles River, so enthusiastic about her job. “We can basically do safety assessments for all possible types of products”, she says. “With our analytical and bioanalytical chemistry techniques, a lot of which are in our facilities in Schaijk, we can analyze almost anything.”

“I like to see it as a complex puzzle. First, we need to find all the pieces. So we look for the right technique to look at the compound, and the different parameters we need like temperature, solvency, pressure. Then we must lay the puzzle, we do the validation. And afterwards our other departments can use that puzzle to identify certain concentrations in their matrix.”

In that regard, the cooperation with HAN comes in handy as well. “Our projects with HAN help us either investigate a new technique, a possible new application or the implementation of a new process.”


Many of our best technicians and study directors came here as students. It’s nice to see that almost all of them stay with us

Theory in practice

Conversely, Ciric thinks that her department is a great place for SABC’s chemistry students to start their career. “Here they can see all the techniques that they learned about in action. As a technician you’ll gain hands-on experience, and if you prefer to move towards the scientific direction you could be a study director. In that role you can choose to work on certain pieces of the puzzle.”

Ciric started at Charles River in the same facility, the same department that she is now the head of. Her career is a perfect example of the opportunities for chemistry students at Charles River. “I was a study director at first, which is also the job a lot of HAN alumni are working in now. And many of our best technicians and study directors came here as students. It’s nice to see that almost all of them stay with us.”

Career opportunities

“Of course we’re always looking for more people who love chemistry,” she adds with a smile. “So for anyone who’s interested: we’re continuously expanding, introducing new studies, new groups and therefore all kinds of new opportunities. For internships too. Whether you want to grow towards a managing role, become a senior scientist, or even investigate the commercial side of things, as I did for a while as well. If you want to develop and learn, the possibilities here are endless.”

If you are interested in an internship at Charles Rivers, write to

Photo David van Haren