Roger Brideau has been a microbiologist since 1975 and now uses his microbiology skills in his new passion - quality beer making. His company career began in June 1980 at Upjohn in Kalamazoo, Mich., after completing a Masters Degree at Oxford University at the Dunn School of Pathology in England. He joined the Experimental Biology Unit (later to become Viral Diseases Research) to work on interferon inducer compounds using animal models.
Roger's work with viruses progressed to projects centered on the development of vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus in the late 1980s using rodent models of disease. The project was then sold to another large pharmaceutical company.
He continued work with viruses, and focused on development of antiviral inhibitors directly affecting the replication cycle of herpes viruses, while working in the Infectious Diseases Research Unit. These inhibitors had activity against the common herpes viruses, including those that cause cold sores, genital herpes, mononucleosis, chicken pox and shingles. The project ended when Upjohn was purchased by Pfizer in 2003.
Roger transfered into Pfizer Global R&D in Ann Arbor in late 2003, just 100 miles down the interstate from Kalamazoo. He worked on anti-bacterial drugs, as he had prior experience working with bacteria in both a hospital and at the Trudeau Research Institute in Saranac Lake, New York, during the 1970s. While in Ann Arbor, the focus of his laboratory was on staphylococcal disease models and on the use of pseudomonas animal models. Pseudomonas is a problem in cystic fibrosis patients.
He remained with the company until the Ann Arbor complex was closed in 2008. He was one of the last ten scientists on site from the R&D group, and he worked the last six months at the company helping with the shipment of laboratory equipment to Pfizer colleagues and to universities.
"The best part of my years at the company were when we designed our new laboratories in 1982 for expansion into a building in 1984 and all the fine coworkers I worked with side-by-side at that time," Roger said. "I remained in the same new laboratory and office for another 19 years. I had the most departmental seniority at that time in 2003, having seen all of the 17 virologists get hired, which was very satisfying for me."
When Roger took early retirement after 28 years of company service, he continued his work in microbiology. He joined a start-up company as the first paid employee in the role of senior microbiologist. "The work has taken me to 14 states over the past three years as our company has expanded to 10 additional employees involved with microbiology instrumentation. So, I am still futzing around in the laboratory each day to get me out of the house and teaching younger microbiologists," said Roger.
He and his wife Vickie are also avid home brewers. Vickie is a retired first grade educator and now volunteers as a librarian. Together, they brew beer each month and make six different beers, all in the English tradition of low carbonation, low alcohol and low hop flavor. They also brew a holiday beer for their friends and family. Their home-based brewery is called Empty Nest Brewing.
In 2011, they decided to submit five different beers into regional contests. Three of their beers won awards (two silver medals and an honorable mention) competing against 1,150 beers submitted from 530 different home brewers. The wins were especially rewarding to Roger as a microbiologist successfully applying his talents to his brewery.
He has been an invited lecturer on craft beer making and also pours beer at a local brewpub for monthly beer tastings where he can share his knowledge of quality beers from around the world and of brewing methods. His love of quality beer started when he and Vickie were students at Oxford just prior to his joining the company more than 30 years ago.