Dr Safeer Mughal [BSc(Hons) Medical Genetics, 2008; PhD Genetics, 2013) works for Parexel, a multinational life-science consultancy, based at their Harrow centre. At the time of the presentation he was working as a Scientific Writer, and has now been promoted to the role of Scientific Specialist.
During his talk Drugs, Keys and the Latest Fix: An insight into Medical Communication Safeer described the role that medical writers play in brokering information between clients and their intended audience. The knack is to make sure that the information is accurate but conveyed in a way that fits with the current knowledge of the doctors, the nurses or the general public with whom you want to communicate. A transcript is available here.
Slides from Safeer’s talk can be seen below (and via this link).
Andrew Warr [BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Biochemistry), 2010] gave a presentation Biopharmaceutical Process Development: Good Manufacturing Practices or Breaking Bad? during the 2015 season of CABS. At the time of the talk, Andrew was an Upstream Process Developer at Actavis Biologics. He has subsequently moved to fulfil a similar role at Oxford BioMedica.
Andy gave a fascinating insight into the production of drugs known as biologics. As the name implies, these are biological molecules manufactured in cells rather than by synthetic chemistry. This sector is emerging as an important source of new medicines (and therefore of potential careers for bioscientists). For example, many of the exciting new treatments for cancer and other diseases are based on monoclonal antibodies (when you see reports of breakthrough involving drugs whose name ends -mab these are monoclonals). Other drugs are “biosimilars”, pharmaceutical versions of naturally occurring compounds. Andy also gave some general advice for people considering working in a similar field. A transcript of his talk is available via this link.
Slides from Andrew’s presentation can be see below (and here).
The value of doing a PhD is a theme we’ve discussed several times during the history of Careers After Biological Sciences both directly (e.g. here) and indirectly (when speakers have done a PhD as a step onto the later role they are discussing, e.g. here and here).
During the 2015 season of CABS talks we invited two further contributions from former Leicester undergraduates who were, at the time, working on their PhDs. Dan Rogerson was doing research on synthetic biology at the LMB in Cambridge, Ananthi Ramachandran was working on bacteriophages as potential therapies again Clostridium difficile in the Dept of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at Leicester. They were invited because they both have rather unusual features in the story of how they came into their research posts.
As he explained in his talk (slides below, and here), Dan did not wait to see what posts would be advertised. Instead he wrote letters to a number of potential supervisors describing projects he would like to conduct as part of their team.
Dan’s unusual strategy proved effective – he received offers from all four leading scientists to whom he made a pitch. He discusses this approach in his presentation, as well as offering some very helpful general advice on successfully negotiating the PhD experience – the highs and the lows. A transcript of Dan’s talk is available here.
In contrast, Ananthi (slides below, and here) spent a period after graduation working for a pharmaceutical company, initially as maternity cover. Uncertain of the promotion prospects in that role, she eventually ended up back in Leicester to do a PhD. After an initial hiccup, she moved on to her current project looking into phage as a treatment for Clostridium difficile. A transcript of her talk is available via this link.
There were common factors between the two talks. Both speakers emphasised the importance of researching the lab you are applying to work with; there’s more to an enjoyable and successful PhD than just having an interesting topic to study. The value of keeping your CV up to date also came across; thinking through how the activities you’ve done (final year project; other coursework; summer jobs, etc) can be used as evidence of the skills you have been developing.
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.