Chemical Information

David Breiner

David Breiner began his career in chemical information working as a technical sales representative for Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). He then moved into an information professional role in the pharmaceutical industry, using the systems he had previously been selling and teaching to many others. He earned a master's degree in chemistry, became a senior information scientist, and was eventually hired to build a technical information center at a specialty chemicals company.

What you need to succeed in this field

  • Technical and literature searching skills
  • Knowledge of relevant Web resources
  • People skills
  • Communication skills—oral and written
  • Ability to adapt to change quickly

David currently manages the information center at Cytec Industries, a $3 billion specialty chemicals and materials technology company. More than just a library, the information center is a repository for intellectual property (laboratory notebooks, research reports, technical documentation), as well as a center for idea exchange, innovation, and employee learning. The information center sponsors presentations by company scientists, promoting interaction and collaboration on a technical level. David spends a significant amount of his time talking to scientists and managers to understand their information needs and how the information center can best address them.

The information center also serves as a traditional corporate library. David manages the staff and budget, negotiates subscriptions with vendors, acquires books and electronic resources, and does some literature searching. He oversees the internal library Web portal with its vast electronic content and trains employees on its use. David also manages security issues for the technical archive, making sure the data is both protected and accessible to the right people.

Career Path

David started medical school, but decided it was not for him. Eventually, he obtained a position in technical sales for Chemical Abstracts Service. He traveled extensively, explaining available products and providing introductory training. After two years, he leveraged his expertise in chemical databases to obtain a position as an information scientist at a pharmaceutical company, using the systems he had been previously selling. During this time he also went back to school and earned a master's degree in chemistry. David later moved into a senior information analyst position at another pharmaceutical company. After five years, he moved into his current position at Cytec Industries in Stamford, Connecticut, transforming the library into a technical information center that would collect and manage the major intellectual property (knowledge) for the organization.

His first year on the job was spent building the infrastructure and moving the system to electronic resources wherever possible-journals, patents, databases, reports, and so on. Now that the framework is in place, David is focused on promoting the information center's services and training employees at the company's global R&D sites. In addition to his full-time position, David teaches a master's level course in chemical information technology at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

"I believe that the need for information specialists will become increasingly important as we move more into a "digital" world. There will always be a need for those who can make sense out of information and help others turn it into knowledge."