Jackie MacArthur [BSc(Hons) in Biological Sciences (Genetics, 1998)] is Project Leader at the Genome-Wide Association Study Catalog, at the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, UK. She gave a presentation about her work during the 2015 season of Careers After Biological Sciences talks.
Following on from her initial degree, Jackie went on to carry out a PhD (at Nottingham), before three stints as a postdoctoral researcher, in the UK and the USA. All of these roles have been connected by an interest in the role of genes in diseases.
As well as describing her current work in scientific curation and management of a major international archive of published gene mutations associated with various disease states, Jackie also gave some very helpful generic advice about the merits of postgraduate study for a range of careers and some tips on choosing a suitable role.
Aaron described some of the work involved in his current work as a Quality Assurance officer in the pharmaceutical industry, and the crucial role fulfilled by a “Qualified Person” in ensuring patient safety.
In May 2015 Aaron moved from Hospira to Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Hannah Boulding [BSc(Hons) Medical Genetics, 2009) spoke during the 2015 Careers After Biological Sciences. She explained how she had gone from an initial bioscience degree, via a PhD in Bioinformatics at the University of Oxford, to end up developing finance software for Bloomberg, a multinational corporation with interests in several sectors.
Andrew Lindsay [BSc (Hons) Medical Biochemistry, 2002] is a Specialist Registrar in Emergency Medicine, currently working in London. Andy went on to study Medicine at Newcastle University and has subsequently worked in a variety of roles, both in the UK and Australia.
Andy gave a clear insight into the stresses of working in Emergency Medicine, but also the exciting and varied possibilities that the role can involve, including working with airborne emergency services and acting as the senior doctor at the London 2012 Olympics and other major sporting events.
As well as describing the life of an emergency doctor, Andy also offered practical advice for those considering applying to medical school after graduations from their original bioscience degree.
Shairbanu Ashra [BSc(Hons) Medical Biochemistry, 2004] works in the Protein & Nucleic Acid Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Leicester.
As she explained in her presentation, contemporary science needs a variety of specialist support services which researchers don’t need in their own team, but need to be able to draw upon when needed. One such service involves analysis of protein samples to see what they contain. Mass Spectrometry is one way to achieve this. It can reveal important and interesting new interactions (as well as sometimes revealing that someone has accidentally got their sample contaminated with a standard lab protein – embarrassing, but good to know if it saves months of labour on the wrong thing!)
Hayley Shaw [BSc(hons) Biological Sciences (Physiology and Pharmacology), 2007] initially wanted to be a lollipop lady. Having been encouraged into a biology degree at Leicester by an enthusiastic teacher, she assumed this would lead onto some sort of ground-breaking research on AIDS or cancer. However recognising that she actually enjoyed talking about science more than labwork this started to evolve into an interest in pharmaceutical sales. Things took an unexpected turn, however, when she visited a graduate recruitment consultant to discuss her options, and they asked her to work for them!
For a while, therefore, she worked as the middle-man linking up graduates with appropriate companies. Having interviewed something between 300 and 400 graduates and investigating the different roles they could go into, Hayley was drawn to Knowledge Transfer management.
Her first Knowledge Exchange Manager role was in the newly formed Risk Centre at Cranfield University. This is still where she works, though the role has expanded, with the unit becoming the Institute for Environment, Health, Risks and Futures. Her job involves acting as a broker between knowledge generators (the University) and a variety of clients, including government departments and industry, who want to know about specific emerging issues.
Hayley stressed the importance of recognising and taking seriously the variety of skills that students on Biological Science courses are developing during their studies. If you are interested in science communication then look for existing opportunities to demonstrate an ability to communicate complex ideas in simple ways, including blogging or running a science cafe. She concluded by emphasising the need to “know your skills and know what you love”.
Jon Williams [BSc(hons) 2007, PhD 2011] gave a talk in the 2014 CABS season about the work of a Clinical Scientist in the NHS, and specifically the Genetic services. The emergence of so-called Next Generation sequencing has massively reduced the cost of DNA sequencing and is opening up the prospect of genomic medicine. Jon illustrated this with a variety of examples from his own experience. He spoke extensively about the Scientist Training Programme, which he was just completing (this programme is now co-ordinated by the National School of Healthcare Science, with applications opening in January of each year, although it is recommended to attend the information days in the preceding autumn). A transcript of Jon’s talk is available here.