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Career Story: Research Scientist For A Large Pharmaceutical Company

Research Scientist For A Large Pharmaceutical Company

Job Title: Scientist

Type of Company: I work for a large pharmaceutical company

Education: BSc Biology, University of Birmingham, UK, PhD, University of Birmingham, UK

Previous Experience: Research Associate at university while completing my PhD

Job Tasks: I am work in research, what we call "discovery", for a pharmaceutical company. I work on a project team that tries to discover new antibiotics to treat serious infections - one serious enough that you would be in hospital. The team consists of people from different disciplines; Chemistry, biochemistry, drug metabolism, microbiology and pharmacology. We each bring our specialist knowledge to the team to help find potential drug candidates.

Drug candidates are delivered to another project team that is then responsible for developing the compound into a drug for patients. I also manage a small team of staff that carry out the experiments to test the compounds that the chemists make. We test the compounds to determine their microbiological properties. These tests include whether they inhibit the growth of bacteria from different species and if they have the desired mechanism of action, Results of these experiments along with those from the other disciplines will determine if the compound has the right properties to be a drug.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is knowing that I am trying to find drugs that will cure serious drug resistant infections from which people can die. It can take 6-10 years to develop a new drug and many will fail for lots of different reasons but we strive to be successful.

The worst part of my job is the politics.

Job Tips:
1. A PhD in a biological subject is essential for good career opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector.

2. It is important to develop good written and verbal communication skills in order to be able to explain the science.

3. Learn to have opinions about scientific data and make decisions without having all the information you might want.

Additional Thoughts: What has surprised me most about my career is that I have worked for the same company for 17 years but had many varied and interesting jobs.

If I could have changed one thing I would have taken more risks.

Important qualities of this career are to be able to multi-task, make decisions in the absence of all the information.

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