UCF Alumnus is a Triple Threat with COS Degrees

Dr. Jason Legassie

Dr. Jason Legassie, ’01, graduated from UCF with a dual major in chemistry and biology and a minor in math.

In April of 2014, he was hired as the research and development formulation manager at Sancilio & Co, located in Riviera Beach, Florida, where he manages a team of nine scientists and technicians. Sancilio is a small contract research and manufacturing company that specializes in prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as dietary supplements. His team is responsible for developing new drug formulations in the lab and then planning and executing all exhibit batches that are required for FDA approval of new drug products.

After graduating from UCF in 2001, Dr. Legassie started a pharmaceutical sciences Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His focus was medicinal chemistry and his dissertation was on the structure and function of the enzyme telomerase, a promising cancer target.

He started his career as a formulation scientist at Chattem pharmaceutical company and was soon promoted to research and development manager. Dr. Legassie worked primarily with topical analgesic creams and liquids with some work on patch technology and medical devices. He then worked as a senior formulation scientist on iconic brands such as ChapStick, PrepH, Robitussin and Advil at Pfizer pharmaceutical company. There, he gained experience with semi-solid and liquid formulations as well as solid-dose tableting.

Today, Dr. Legassie looks back at his academic career and is pleased on where his path has taken him. He encourages students to do what they are passionate about, but also be open to opportunity.

“I did my Ph.D. work in medicinal chemistry and would have loved to do this as a career either in the pharmaceutical or academic industry. When I graduated I took a chance by accepting a job doing formulation work. At first it seemed like a stretch, but now I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my work and am glad that I was brave enough to try something a little outside of my comfort zone,” Dr. Legassie said.  

Dr. Legassie shared more on his time at UCF and his current position.    

Why did I choose to attend UCF? 

I was born in Northern Maine, but spent part of my childhood years in Winter Garden, Florida.  I kind of always knew that when I graduated from high school in Ashland, Maine that I was going to attend college at UCF near my family and that’s what I did.  I moved to Florida from Maine after graduating high school in 1996 and started at UCF right away.

How has my UCF degree helped in my career?

The chemistry program at UCF is very challenging.  Biochemistry and advanced analytical chemistry at UCF were as challenging as any of my graduate courses.  I believe this strong foundation has helped carry me through my graduate and professional career.

Was I involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

My first year at UCF I didn’t know anyone. I figured a good way to meet people would be to join an intramural basketball team. I ended up playing one season of intramural basketball, one season of softball and one season of soccer during my time at UCF. I definitely enjoyed myself but I worked 20-30 hours a week at Walt Disney World parking cars as a valet, so I didn’t have much spare time to get involved outside of classes. The one thing I did do is go to football games whenever I got the chance.

Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation?

When I started my Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001, I joined the UCF Alumni association in Raleigh. We mostly watched football games together. It ended up disbanding shortly after I joined. The other major way I stayed involved was by going to football games when I was in town visiting or when the team played close to where I lived.  I traveled to games at Penn State, Marshall, Virginia Tech, East Carolina and NC State while in graduate school at UNC. I would usually meet up with friends from UCF who had also traveled for the games.

What is my best UCF memory?

I met my wife and love of my life in an organic chemistry lab at UCF in the fall of 1999.  That was a really fun time and some of my best friends to this day were in that class (including my wife of course). The lab was about seven hours, so we got to know each other really well and we would usually head out to a local pub afterwards to hang out and burn off steam. I remember the Spirit Splash was going on during the lab that fall and we ducked out to all jump in the reflection pond. What a great time.

My favorite thing about my job?

There is always something to discover. Once the everyday details of your chosen career are learned it is very rewarding to be able to tackle large and complex problems and eventually find solutions through experimentation and collaboration.

What is the most memorable experience on the job?

I had an intern who was very hungry to prove herself.  I supported her when she had an idea for a difficult formulation that most thought would not work.  It turned out that she was right and we ended up moving forward with her formulation for launch. We also filed for a patent on her formulation. It was very rewarding to mentor someone and help them find success.

Dr. Legassie answered some more questions about himself in our 30 second lighting round of the spotlight.

What do you do for fun?

Fishing, off-roading, travel and wine.

Do you have any special or hidden talents?

I can do a standing back flip to this day. I try to stay fit and learned this while playing pop warner football as a kid and can still do it.

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