Job Title: Pharmacokineticist
Education: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry, Brown University Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Chemistry, Northeastern University
Previous Experience: I worked for a privately held pharmaceutical company as a research chemist in the laboratory, on the bench, as well as at a desk, preparing reports.
Job Tasks: As a bench chemist I worked mostly with antibody-based assay (test) systems. I either grew the antibody to the drug in an animal (most of which would last 10-20 years' worth of research) or took antibody that had already been generated and reacted it with various bodily fluids (blood, serum, plasma, urine, breast milk) to quantify the amount of drug present.
I perfected the assays, validated them, then farmed them out to previously reviewed and approved analytical laboratories. I generated reports that were presented to the FDA in the drug approval process, listing tables of patients' drug concentrations, to be able to determine how long it took for the drug to be absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted from the body.
In addition, I kept the laboratory supplies labeled, verified expiration dates, calibrated equipment, and kept logs for all so that it could be proved all equipment was in working order at the time that the testing was done. All reports were reviewed outside the department for accuracy and veracity. The motto in an FDA reviewed report is that "if it is not recorded it never happened". Thus all work and its recording had to be accurate and documented.
After 10 years of this, I moved to a desk position where I received the analytical results of outside or in-house laboratories and generated the tables, graphs and reports that were submitted to the FDA for approval of the drug. I used various computer programs for mathematical analysis of significance, variability, and accuracy of the drug's actions.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job was that I got to work independently. Most of the laboratory work was like cooking, with accurate records, without the tasting. The results, even negative results, enabled me to be more creative in revising the testing strategy. Another good part of the mathematical analysis job was that it could be done remotely; I enjoyed working from home part-time for the past 16 years.
The worst part of the job was the politics: it is the same in all fields, regardless of the field.
1. The best advice I can give is to find a field in which you enjoy the work. If you are having a good time manipulating reagents, data, software, or anything, you can go beyond the political strife rampant in the workplace.
2. The second piece of advice is to use humor sparingly. It is not always understood and it leads to embarrassing and difficult situations.
3. he third piece of advice is that if you are dissatisfied with your position, find another one while you are still employed.
Additional Thoughts: Of course, a strong science background helps. Being independent is also a great advantage.
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