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  • Medical Biochemistry to Senior Research Technician

    Name : Isaac Gardiner (He/Him) Job :Senior Research Technician A levels/ equivalent - Biology, Chemistry and Maths Undergrad and post grad degrees - BSc (Hons)  Medical Biochemistry MSc Biomedical Science and Favourite science fact - There are an excess of 25 trillion cells in the human body Journey in 3 Words - Enlightening, Arduous and Worthwhile. Briefly describe your current role:I work on Early Detection and Diagnosis award, supporting research in the identification of novel biomarkers for gastric cancer. My role varies from lab tasks of : Confocal microscopy and image analysis, organoid and tissue culture . I also present findings to colleagues and at conferences as well as training other staff members and students in the different techniques of our lab. What motivated you to pursue a career in science - My Ghanaian parents, who are medical professionals, encouraged me to take up a career in medicine, but I did not want to copy their professions, so I paved my own way. What is a typical week like for you? Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality? My role is varied, so my tasks throughout the week also chop and change. As a result, I have developed a more dynamic personality. A typical week for me involves maintaining gastric adenocarcinoma cell line(s), establishing/feeding patient and cell line derived gastric organoids, accurately noting experiments, culturing bacteria and infecting gastric adenocarcinoma cultures/organoids. The Covid-19 pandemic was a defining moment for most - How did you stay motivated during your BSc ( highlights and low moments can be described here) The UK response to the COVID-19 pandemic initiated while I was in the last year of my undergraduate course. Although this was a challenging time for myself and my family, I was able to quite easily stay motivated because I was working a full-time role in COVID-19 diagnostic lab, so I was part of the ‘fight’ against SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence. How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you? My passions have not changed since I started pondering about my career options. Since I lost a family member to cancer, I have always been interested in cancer diagnosis/therapy. How did you decide on your Msc? and do you feel you made the right decision for your career? My decision to undertake an MSc was based on my desire to advance in my career, as I felt I had reached the ceiling for the career progression that my undergraduate degree could facilitate. I definitely made the right decision, as my MSc course was pivotal in the acquisition of my current role. What advice would you give someone wanting to follow the same path? Take every opportunity to ask every question that comes to mind. There’s no such thing as a silly question, every answered ‘silly question’ provides you with knowledge that other people may be too shy to obtain. For your current role, what application / interview top tip would you give? Make sure you know your work history very intimately. Familiarise yourself with the job description, essential and desirable criteria, so that you can highlight why you are a great fit. Always ask the interviewer(s) at least one question, at the end of your interview; it makes you more memorable. I like to ask what interesting projects the interviewer(s) are currently working on or what interesting projects they have worked on, in the past. I also enquire as to what their favourite thing(s) are about their role/workplace. You’ve expressed interest in  doing a PhD - what would be your ideal project and what are some concerns? My ideal project would be establishing patient derived organoids for the screening of novel/repurposed cancer therapy, preferably gastric, colorectal or prostate cancer. A concern of mine, relating to undertaking a PhD, would be making sure that the studentship stipend would be sufficient for looking after my family. Navigating ‘what's next’ can be quite difficult : What resources or thought process have helped in thinking about your career progression? I like to read relevant scientific papers and browse the job market, to stay up-to-date on the latest scientific developments, like new diagnostic assays, technology and novel drugs. Have you had a mentor and how has that contributed to your career journey? No, but I am a Christian, so I believe that I am always being led by God and this has always given me confidence throughout my career journey. Outside science how would you describe yourself? I am a laid-back person, who enjoys spending time with my family, watching TV shows and movies and keeping fit.

  • Biology and Psychology to Clinical science STP

    Name : Iyesha Kebe, (She/Her) Job Title: Trainee Clinical Scientist (Specialising in Cardiac Science) A levels/ equivalent: Biology, English literature and Chemistry Undergrad and postgrad degrees: Biology and Psychology BSc. My current job is a combined work based and masters programme called the scientist training programme (STP) Favourite science fact: Clouds are heavy, and weigh about around 550 tonnes Journey in 3 Words: Dynamic, Explorative, Purposeful Briefly describe your current role: As a trainee clinical scientist specialising in cardiac science, my role involves conducting, analysing and reporting diagnostic tests of patients with suspected cardiac diseases. These tests include ECGs, exercise testing and echocardiography. What motivated you to pursue a career in science: I have always wanted to work in the sciences. Science was my favourite subject in school and I found it as a great opportunity to problem solve and help people. What is a typical week like for you? A typical week for me, as a trainee in my final year of the program, follows a consistent schedule. I typically spend two or three days in my specialty training for echocardiography. Additionally, I allocate one or two days to non-invasive testing, such as Holter analysis. Lastly, I have one study day for my academic assignments. Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality? I would describe my role as a trainee in my final year of the program as somewhat predictable due to the consistent schedule of specialty training, non-invasive testing, and study days. However, within each designated activity, there is variability in the specific patient cases and tasks I encounter, adding a degree of diversity to my work. Overall, while there is a routine to follow, the nature of the tasks within that routine keeps my role engaging and dynamic. How did you decide on your MSc? and do you feel you made the right decision for your career? Why did you choose the STP pathway? . I became familiar with the tests through research and shadowing cardiac physiologists in my departments. I also emailed and messaged cardiac physiologists on LinkedIn to understand how they entered the field and to hear about their day to day job role. I chose the STP for my MSc due to its patient-focused approach in cardiac science, aligning with my desire to have a career in healthcare. The program's emphasis on science-led healthcare allows me to merge my passion for quality care with my love for scientific inquiry. Additionally, its structured nature and rotations across healthcare departments provide a holistic understanding of patient needs. What is an insight you gained about your job only after you started? The impact of effective communication on patient care outcomes. While technical skills are crucial, the ability to listen, empathise, and communicate clearly with patients significantly influences their experience and overall health journey. Additionally, although our job may involve specific routine tests, it's crucial to apply our holistic understanding of the patient's condition to tailor our approach and management effectively. Is there anything that makes you hesitant about your field? Nothing in particular however the responsibility of accurately diagnosing a patient's condition can sometimes feel daunting, emphasising the importance of ongoing professional development and support networks. How do you stay motivated? I stay motivated by reminding myself of the impact my work has on improving patient outcomes Setting clear goals and celebrating small achievements. For your current role, what application / interview top tip would you give? Having a solid understanding of the tests and activities in the desired specialism you apply for. Demonstrating your commitment to patient-centred care, problem-solving, and adaptability will showcase your suitability for the role. Sharing relevant experiences that show your leadership capabilities. What other roles did you explore before deciding on the STP pathway - could you detail what you liked about them and didn't? I explored roles in public health. I worked as a volunteer researcher for a public health charity, I worked in administration and was a teaching assistant briefly. I definitely enjoyed my role as a researcher but I didn't particularly like the other roles because it was not science or health related. Also I wanted to work more with people and I don't believe I suit a desk job. How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you? My passions and interests have remained consistent since childhood, as I've always known I wanted to work in the science field. However, I was not aware of this role in secondary and university. I explored different roles until deciding on this one which helped to refine my career path. While there wasn't a defining moment, this journey allowed me to adapt and evolve my interests until finding the right fit in my current role. Is there an experience/ conversation that has heavily impacted the trajectory your career journey? I think exploring roles that were not in science helped it really confirm where my interest lies and what fulfilled me. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In five years, I see myself further advancing in the field of echocardiography. Additionally, I aspire to be actively engaged in public health research and program development, striving to make meaningful contributions to global health specifically in Africa. Outside of science how would you describe yourself? I would describe myself as a calm person. But I also enjoy meeting people and listening to other people's stories. I enjoy travelling and find joy in being creative outside of work through art and music or outdoor activities like hiking.

  • Sickle Cell Disease: The hope for new treatments

    For a disease that hasn’t seen a new development implemented since 1998 ,the news of a complete cure or treatment to alleviate the pain to those affected is one we are all hoping for and will single handily change the lives of so many. Sickle cell disease will always make news headlines and bring up an intense range of emotions. It is a debilitating genetic disease that has been carefully campaigned for in the UK by Sickle cell society — through educating the workforce and dispelling negative stereotypes about black patients and supporting them through hospital admissions, treatments and general wellbeing. Sickle cell mainly affects black people who rightfully have a very complicated relationship with the healthcare system. As a black woman in the UK, it’s almost second nature to expect health headlines highlighting my demographic to end in negativity. This distrust in health systems is a wound yet to be healed that starts with knowing there is a high chance of receiving a different level of care . A fresh wound constantly reopened on a global scale highlighted by racial disparity findings during the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This post breaks down current treatment options for sickle cell patients and explains the disappointment of recently revoked ‘new treatment’ — Crizanlizumab — Landmark sickle cell drug axed by regulators Sickle cell is a genetically determined blood disorder where blood cells have a sickle shape which affects how oxygen is transported to organs and due to the shape can also build up in areas of the body leading to a painful crisis . In people without sickle cell, blood cells are disc shaped and can easily flow through blood vessels. Crizanlizumab( commercial name: Adakveo) would have been the first new sickle cell drug introduced in the past 20 years. Current sickle cell treatments aim to reduce the pain experienced by patients to ultimately decrease the need for hospital visits. The current medication offered under the NHS is Hydroxycarbamide (Hydroxyurea) which lowers the number of ‘sticky cells’ ( white blood cells and platelets), reducing the chances of a build up of blood cells that leads to a crisis. How do these drugs work? Hydroxycarbamide : lowers the number of cells that clot (white blood cells and platelets and preventing the formation of sickle shaped red blood cells) — NHS 2. Crizanlizumab( Adakveo) : prevents blood from sticking to the walls of blood vessels , less crisis for patients. The withdrawal of Adakveo was responded to on X(formerly twitter) with wavering disappointment yet again for sickle cell patients and ultimately a deep sigh where black patients don’t feel treatments are being developed at a pace we desperately need. While the news headlines may describe it as a major loss — it is more of a disappointment which is part of the long drug development process. It’s worth noting now that Adakveo is not the only treatment being trialled and inclacumab is currently in Phase 3 trials awaiting results that will further be described in this post. ‘ Though no safety concerns were identified, the MHRA concluded the drug is not sufficiently effective, despite evidence suggesting that it eases symptoms for those living with the illness.’ — MHRA 2024 The extract from the independent article leaves many questions as to what ‘sufficiently effective’ means and why a drug with ‘no safety concerns’ has been withdrawn. The revocation comes at a review of interesting Phase 3 results announced in early 2023 by NOVARTIS- the pharmaceutical company responsible for the development. To which for them the previous Phase 2 trial showed to be more effective over no treatment (placebo). A key factor in drug trials is ensuring the new treatment being developed has an advantage of either the current treatment offered or having no treatment whatsoever. Drug companies tend to compare patients receiving regular treatment in order to not decrease patient wellbeing during the trial. A detailed look at the Phase 2 trial publication in Feb 2017 shows a few things: What was the aim? The overall aim is to have the patients on the drug visit the hospital less than those not taking the new drug. What did they do? In 198 patients over 60 sites in three countries: United States (151 patients), Brazil (40), and Jamaica (7).They compared two doses ( high and low) of this new treatment Crizanlizumab against a placebo( not having the drug) to investigate how often patients were hospitalised . What were the results?: The phase 2 results showed a lower rate of hospital visits in patients given a higher dose for a long time than those with the placebo treatment and a longer time between crises needing hospital visits. 10% of patients also had a high frequency of side effects:arthralgia( joint pain) , diarrhoea, pruritus(itching), vomiting, and chest pain. Why has it been withdrawn from the UK and EU ? “ Adakveo does not reduce the number of painful crises requiring a healthcare visit or treatment at home in patients with sickle cell disease.” — EMA ( European Medical Authority) May 2023 Following Phase 2 trials, NOVARTIS decided to move to Phase 3 trials in a larger group of patients to hopefully identify the same findings. The findings of the phase 3 results didn’t show the same results . Given Novartis Phase 3 results, regulatory bodies of different countries can then decide the wider role out of the medication. In the US Adakveo was approved by the FDA it did not meet the requirements for European regulators EMA in May 2023.This led to its subsequent revoking for use of patients in the UK . Even though its the end of the road in Europe, Phase 4 trials are likely to follow in the US where the drug is still available. This may seem frustrating; but the scientific concept behind Adakveo is still being developed by other researchers. A drug is more than the concept and different researchers will have different formulations and ways to deliver similar therapies. What is the concept? As early as 2001 researchers began to identify the importance of a molecule called P-selectin. P-selectin in very simple terms promotes the sticking of blood cells on vessel walls. Understanding this interaction has led researchers to develop therapies that block P-selectin and hence prevent the build up of blood cells and improve blood flow , which for sickle cell patients will hopefully reduce the number of crises. Will Inclacumab provide the answers? With clinical trials just because one fails doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Inclacumab is a another drug that also works by targetting P-selectin currently under Phase 3 trials . Interestingly in a study from NOV 2023 on blood samples of 6 sickle cell patients. The effectiveness of both drugs were compared on a chip, researchers found Inclacumab to be more effective at preventing the sticking of blood cells than Adakveo. This is promising as we wait for the results from the Phase 3 trails. Other new treatments The revoking of Adakveo has also caused some confusion with the recently announced CRISPR -gene editing therapy for sickle cell patients. The gene editing therapy is a one-time treatment that has already had positive effects in a handful of trial patients. Its major downside is the million dollar price tag placed on the technology. Adakveo is $2357 in the US , and most patients will require 3 to 4 vials per month ($7071 to $9428). As we patiently wait for new therapies we are reminded that will still come at a cost, reducing the number of people that benefit from life changing treatment. References and further reading Adakveo Trial review: Mode of Action: PHASE 2: Crizanlizumab for the Prevention of Pain Crises in Sickle Cell Disease Inclacumab Phase 1 : EU clinical trial register:

  • What happens to dead fat cells after a BBL?

    Brazzillian butt lifts (BBL) are a growing procedure worldwide as women are faced with another ideal body type . Many women have put some thought into the shape of their bums. It may start by using shapewear that enhances the shape and look. To actively growing the gluteal muscle in the gym for a rounder appearance. BBL’s falls under an extreme version of attaining this body goal as it remains the most risky cosmetic procedure.  The personal reasons for going through such body  enhancement are complex and up to the individual - frankly none of my business. In a world where influencers have begun to shape decisions on medical procedures - shouldn’t everyone have a better understanding of the human body to make independent decisions? We  wanna know how she get that ass like that How she get that ass like that We wanna know how she get that ass like that That ass like that yea yea -Victoria Monet -ass like that NECROSIS: Non-programmed cell death leading to inflammation One of the risks of the BBL procedure is fat loss. Fat can be lost through reabsorption or cell death(necrosis). The procedure accounts for a certain amount of fat loss and some patients will undergo a second surgery for a top-up. Cell death in general biology terms is a natural process. Cells die and are cleared by the body in a regulated maintenance cycle. This process is called Apoptosis. In BBL cases, the cell death is often unplanned and hence there are many guides on ‘how to maintain fat’ which in other words is to keep the new fat cells ‘happy’ in their environment so they don’t die off. Cell death is a whole research field linked to many diseases such as cancer, lupus and more. So let's dive in a little deeper . What is the difference between necrosis and apoptosis Why do cells die? As mentioned earlier cells die as part of a natural process to maintain optional functionality of a cell to do its job. Different cells have different purposes and to do that they must remain efficient. Blood cells for example are used to transfer oxygen and nutrients to other cells that need them in the body. Blood cells only last 120 days in the body before they are renewed. In this process they will ‘die’ and be cleared out as new ones are generated. Fat cells on the other hand don’t regenerate as often  and only 10% of them are replaced yearly . In diseases such as cancer , cells can trick the natural process of cell death and skip it , leading to problems such as tumour growth. The importance of how a cell dies Cell death is a natural phenomenon that happens to maintain the healthy functioning of tissues in the body. Tissues are just a group of cells working together and tissues collectively form an organ. Heart cell - heart tissue- that collective tissue carrying out a function  is the heart as the organ we know it to be. Cell death can widely be put into two groups. Programmed and unprogrammed cell death. In cell necrosis, the process isn't so ‘streamlined’ , the cell abruptly bursts releasing its contents and through that also producing signals that it needs to be cleared away. This bursting isn’t normal as cells are usually contained within a wall - the cell wall.  Instead of the body being prepared for this it is ‘reacting’ and hence leads to inflammation. Inflammation is where- you guessed it inflammatory cells surround an area trying to fight this strange thing in your body ! .This inflammation can be treated in most cases including the BBL  but in extreme cases an attempt to remove the cells through a second surgery might be most appropriate. The build up of dead cells leads to a more hardened feel in the area due to the release of calcium  from that burst cell that solidifies. Interestingly there is a hierarchy of clearance and programmed cell death takes priority in the body through recognisable signals of ‘eat me’ , with necrotic cells taking longer to be cleared naturally by the body. Inflammation through unprogrammed cell death is a whole area of disease study through - inflammatory diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac disease:atherosclerosis which all deal with cells not doing as they are supposed to in the body . Necrosis due to BBL is evidently a scary thing to experience through many accounts on social media and web forum experiences. While BBL’s might be the most-spoken about procedure currently, necrosis is not uncommon in other cosmetic procedures. I hope you’ve learnt a little more about cell death and clearance and for all the people with a science background if you want cell-pathways and receptor names, I’ve linked some really good review articles to trigger your love for science Resources: Overview scientific history of BBL procedure development: Diversity and complexity of cell death: A historic view 3. What is the difference between necrosis and apoptosis( Video): 4. A detailed review of cell death: Apoptosis, necrosis and more:

  • PhD Application Guide

    While there are many quick guides on this process. This one takes you through the emotions of such a big decision and in sharing I hope anyone interested in this path gains something - either like my failed medicine attempts it may seem like something not worth the hassle or you may have found the final push to put the pieces together. I believe anyone can do a PhD; the main qualifier is determination, grit and the ability to adapt at a frightening pace. It’s definitely always good to talk to previous/current PhD students and visit labs. However this isn’t always available so I would just say that a PhD is a major commitment so BE SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS - JADE SENIOR POLICY OFFICER ROYAL SOCIETY OF BIOLOGY. The Journey to PhD Shortlisting applications As mentioned earlier, there are different application types that will suit your needs. Have a look through a few examples and begin to formulate what suits your needs. Be open - initially I didn't want a programme that did rotations and preferred to go straight into one with a defined topic as I had spent time as a research technician and overtime didn't want to “waste any more time” - But quickly was reminded its about the journey and your goals and not necessarily the time taken. My end decision to choose programmes with rotational years came from the knowledge that it takes time to build a project and having that year to really learn new skills and potentially take another different route excited me. Deadlines- Different applications have different deadlines. Spend the summer till August scouting out programmes to get a rough idea of what your needs are. A rough guide is start prepping applications in September and October. It may seem tight but with a few focused sessions you’ll be ready to apply ! Applications for cohort programs open as early as September and deadlines as early as October. Most themed programme applications will close by january. That being said, a lot of applications also have rolling deadlines and may re-recruit . There are also project specific PhD programmes that stay open till late summer and even projects that are open throughout the year and just waiting on the right candidate. If it’s something you really want to do keep looking and check multiple sources. The CV The CV and personal statement go hand in hand with the CV being easier to write. Many sites will give you a guide on academic CV structures , chat GPT might even get you started . I found it useful to ask for real successful examples and pick a style that you like. Having these successful applications can take away some anxiety on whether you have enough experience or described things in enough detail. An academic CV is very long and doesn't have a page limit. Use this to the best of your ability. Really highlight EVERYTHING that you have and what you’ve done. As a general rule, it's best to not leave any room for doubt for the person reading. The hardest thing for most people is accurately translating the work they have done for a stranger to understand and find important. Everyone will forget what they do and if you struggle to share your achievements this becomes even harder. In structuring your CV, I advise you to write out everything in detail and then cut it down from there. Describe the work you did out loud to someone like you were in an interview and had to talk through your experiences. Are there key metrics that you can point out? really try and paint a picture of the work you have done and what you achieved. Even using the voice record feature on your phone to try and remember all the things you had previously done and what you got from it. In Academic CV’s- a clear understanding of your ability through grades and modules taken is really important -be sure to list them out alongside all the modules, I would suggest in the order the modules most important to the programme that you are applying to. For example, the more specific programmes highlight relevant data analysis skills or modules that demonstrate knowledge for a particular research theme or group that you are applying for. Don’t forget to highlight your non-academic achievements - don’t be shy to show who you are outside the grades, posters and dissertation topics. This paints a picture on who you are outside the PhD process. We aren’t these one interests humans with academia being everything ( well at least I try to not be). Add your volunteering and anything you want to share should be shared even if it isn’t in direct relation to your programme. This is nice addition to why you want to do research and your wider goals post PhD! It can be daunting as some people may have publications but having none should’t deter you ! It’s hard to feel like you've achieved a lot without a published paper but there is always something you can draw from with your experience. The personal statement What type of research do I want to do ? Motivations for doing a PhD can literally come from anywhere. Similar to job applications, spending some time having conversations with people and understanding the research landscape will help break down what this means. There are many TCIM PhD interviews you can gain inspiration from. 500 words to explain yourself and show all your achievements. This will take longer than you think and especially the first one. Your personal statement is where you contextualise your skills into a 500 word document trying to convince the person shortlisting you should be interviewed. I think this is the hardest bit, not for the reasons of applying to a competitive programme but accurately describing your skills and the decisions that led you to wanting to pursue a PhD. I often found myself stuck and wanting to write: I AM PASSIONATE, SMART AND A BAD B**** SO TAKE ME ASAP ! The number of personal statements you make and changes will largely depend on the types of places you apply to. If you focus on a specific theme, it will be slightly easier to edit once you start making applications, by simply editing a few paragraphs at a time. If you decide to go for quite different specialties, you will have to change everything to specifically suit that theme. Remember you are trying to remove any form of doubt that you aren’t capable of carrying out independent reasearch. Getting Advice for your personal statement “ Too many cooks spoil the broth” This is quite tricky, choosing people that will support you and understand you as an individual to give quality and useful feedback. In my experience, people have their personal opinions that even though highly successful may not align with your own. I suggest having a good balance of academic and personal friends and family. Two people is generally sufficient to read the changes and make corrections. Having a good relationship with someone in academia will add that extra value to your applications. In the TCIM interviews and from personal experience having a PI or senior academic interested in your success as a potential PhD student makes a difference to your application. This isn’t a time to be shy or “humble” about your achievements. I also had examples of people that had successfully applied and that gave me a gauge of how much detail, the tone and the language. I found this very beneficial as I had worked up in my head on how to make things more “ personal” . On that note, remember that not all advice is good advice and that's why you should keep the eyes on personal statements to a minimum. I wouldn't recommend more than 3 opinions and vary them based on the scheme and expertise of the person. Senior academics understand that “hidden academic language” and have probably interviewed many PhD candidates, they know how to get the technical details out of your experiences. As always TCIM profiles really highlight important steps in many different career journeys. The rapport I built with my BSc final year project supervisor enabled me to land a PhD a year later! This showed me the importance of genuinely enjoying research and building genuine connections as they can change your life! This also showed me the importance of having great mentors and supervisors, as the lab culture and student-supervisor dynamics played a major role in how I enjoyed & perceived research, which further increased my passion for science. - Deyl Djama, Neuroscience PhD student. The interview process The interview process can take a range of formats and should be shared with you prior to interview. Being familiar with common aspects of interview processes should hopefully make this experience as smooth as possible. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of questions as the questions themselves will vary from programme but the themes of what programmes look for doesn’t . Here is a list of what to expect : A 5 min presentation of your work ( with or without slides) A 10 min presentation of your work with clear emphasis on what YOU HAVE DONE and YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORK:list out and explain techniques or at least focus on one. RESEARCH ARTICLE : be prepared based on the programme, simply put the articles will reflect the projects in the selection and the techniques theme about. So apply to programmes you are familiar with and not just interested in what they do. A huge tip for the articles is to make written notes and practise your article summary: overview, main findings and wider impact and flaws you found in the paper as well as possible additional experiments you can think of in regards to the study based on limitations or interests. Your interests outside your main field of application: have a few articles, opinion pieces, news headlines that you can talk about. The interview: These are the things I realised were important to get across You are an independent researcher with experience : FOCUS ON WORK YOU HAVE DONE and how you got it done even if you worked in a team. You understand scientific work and can identify aims, objectives, limitations and think of the wider context of experimentation and ethics within research. You have thought of your reasons why you want to do research : An advantage is having experience outside research as it shows you have tried other things Research ethics and working with colleagues Having kept up with research in and outside your main field of interest. Interest in the department and able to show you understand the scope of work Before the interview : practice, practice, practice. Even the little things. Practise your presentation. Practise your answers to general questions and if you can have a mock interview session where you are allowed to have the nerves. What I didn't do was practise for my research article interview and as a result I think that was a hindrance. I did my best but practice means I would have been better. Practise what your data summary is, what are your go to points and what is your response you want to get across. Practise selling yourself and your achievements. Practise everything you will say. Have notes for when you forget. Research the interview panel - this way you can gauge their expertise and perhaps the questions you may be asked. During the interview - BE YOURSELF ! and allow yourself to pause. It's not awkward and they expect you to. Have a structured idea in your head of the points you want to get across, Have a mental structure for your answer and if it's online don’t be afraid to refer to notes . Even better for online interviews where you can have something to refer to on hand without being so obvious. After the interview - try not to gauge how you did. If you have multiple, I would write down as much as I can about the interview to have some practice questions and possible ways to improve on the process. I did this and what I thought was a great interview I didn't get through and what I thought was just okay I received amazing feedback and got onto it. The Process Summarised PhD applications take a considerable amount of time ! Many people will spend at least 6 months to a year building the relationships that will help them get into their desired programme. This can be through courses, networking, building academic connections and researching different areas of research and programmes most interested in. Pre-application workshops or information webinars Preparing the application ( CV, personal statement, references) Deadlines Pre-interview tasks : presentations, article preparation, interview cohort presentations/ webinars, meeting potential supervisors form listed projects The Interview Accepting/ rejecting places and deadlines. If you liked this post, subscribe to the newsletter and download a pdf version of this blog post

  • PhD Neurobiology to Medical Writer

    Name :Hodan Ibrahim Job Title:Medical Writer A levels/ equivalent :Biology, Chemistry, History Undergrad and postgrad degrees BSc Biomedical Sciences MSc (By Research) Neurophysiology PhD Neurophysiology Briefly describe your current role: I work in medical communications, primarily managing and writing scientific publications. What motivated you to pursue a career in science I enjoyed learning about the human body and the biology of disease in school and college, which made me excited about going for a career in science. I also think my history A-level helped prepare me for my research career, as we spent a lot of time learning how to collect evidence and write essays arguing for and against specific points. This experience was super valuable once I started to write dissertations and theses. I was listed as an inventor on the patent due to my contributions. How would you summarise your PhD and how does it fit into the wider context of health for someone not in research? My PhD was focused on botulinum neurotoxins (better known as Botox) and how they might be effective at treating pain. I was able to work in the industry lab that sponsored my project, and test all sorts of new and different compounds that were produced by the protein scientists. I felt very fortunate to be testing a lot of these compounds for the first time, and I was also listed as an inventor on the patent due to my contributions. Your MSc Supervisor was crucial in your PhD journey. What advice would you give people interested in doing a PhD on the application process and take away messages having completed? While I applied for PhD projects at different universities, it was extremely competitive as I was essentially competing with people all over the world who have had a variety of research experiences and potentially papers already published. Having an MSc is often required by universities in the UK and EU, so I think that if obtaining a PhD is your goal, making connections with supervisors and other academics in your department during this time can be extremely useful. What was it like doing an Industry collaborative PhD? Being part of an industry collaboration was an incredible asset during my PhD, not just for the funding, but also the lab resources that I had access to. I started my project in January 2020, months before the COVID pandemic and lockdown, which meant the university labs were closed. I was extremely lucky to be able to move our lab into the company’s lab facilities which were open and work there, which meant my project was minimally affected by the lockdown. I was also fortunate to also have close contact with people on different career paths within the company, who gave me lots of inspiration and advice about potential roles I could go into. The Job market can be quite daunting. What tips do you have? My current job is in medical communications, which I got into after doing some research on LinkedIn, looking at where other people with similar experiences as myself ended up. While I did struggle in the beginning sending applications and not hearing back, my luck drastically changed after I started spending time revising my CV and cover letter for each application. Having a well-structured LinkedIn profile can be valuable, as recruiters often reach out directly with job opportunities so make sure they can find you! For your current role, what application / interview top tip would you give ? Medcomms is quite difficult to get into, as most roles expect you to have at least a years’ experience at an agency. To navigate this, its important to leverage the skills, potential publications and work experience you do have. There are different fields within medcomms, such as medical education and creative medcomms, so tailor your research depending on which field you are interested in pursuing. is a super useful website with information and videos about the industry. I gained a lot from my time as an academic scientist but I do feel there are many great, fulfilling opportunities to be found outside of the academy also. Do you ever see yourself transitioning back into academia? While I could see myself transitioning back to academia, it seems unlikely as once you step off the academic escalator (PhD -> post doctoral scientist for a few years in different labs -> lecturer etc) it becomes difficult to step back on due to the requirements needed (published papers and grants won). I gained a lot from my time as an academic scientist but I do feel there are many great, fulfilling opportunities to be found outside of the academy also. How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you? PhD students can often get very attached to their project and to the idea of being an academic, which was true for myself especially in the beginning of my project. As I did more research about the career landscape, I found that the idea of multiple short-term post-doctoral positions (1-3 years each) that come along with the pressure to publish after each one in order to obtain your next job did not appeal to me. The vast competition for lectureships also means that some people stay within this postdoc valley for longer than they would like. This made me look for the types of jobs I could get outside of academia.

  • Pharmacy(MPharm) and Aesthetics

    Name:Chinwe Job Title: PCN Clinical pharmacist A levels/ equivalent - Biology,chemistry,geography Undergrad and post grad degrees : Pharmacy (Mpharm) Briefly describe your current role I currently work as a clinical pharmacist in a GP setting, my main role revolves around looking after care homes in our primary care network. I conduct structured medication reviews (SMR) for the care home residents - this is a holistic review of patients (from a pharmacological and non-pharmacological perspective) looking at everything from their medication to their eating habits, assessing their frailty and falls risk - this involves a lot of information gathering and is personalised to each patient. From a medication point of view - unnecessary polypharmacy is an issue the NHS is trying to tackle, especially for care home residents. This is something that is incorporated into my reviews and often involves a lot of deprescribing. I also conduct reviews and medicines optimisation for some long term conditions e.g. hypertension. This can involve initiating a new drug, organising monitoring, follow-ups and any relevant blood tests. What motivated you to pursue a career in science? - I always had an interest in science from a young age, a seed that was definitely planted by my parents. In secondary school I naturally gravitated to the sciences and really enjoyed those subjects. However, in sixth form I discovered other scientific careers outside of medicine and pharmacy felt like a good fit especially when I thought about the work/life balance. Journey in 3 Words - surprising, challenging, rewarding Polypharmacy is a term used to describe the situation when people are taking a number of medicines What is a typical week like for you? Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality? Right now I am in control of what my week looks like, but it would generally involve a few visits to some of the care homes I look after (there are 5) - this can be for various reasons e.g. medicines optimisation or general care home queries. Some days I work from home when I have a lot of admin based tasks. The care homes have constant access to me via email and I receive a lot of queries this way. This can be anything from; clarifying dosing instructions, urgent prescription requests, missing prescriptions or microbiology forms,blood test requests, queries about out of stock medications and alternatives. I would describe my role as varied, but there are some parts that are predictable e.g prescription queries - these never end. I think this role works well with my personality, I am someone who genuinely enjoys learning and I love that I am able to learn everyday. I would say this is the biggest advantage to working in a GP/ clinical setting. When I was in the community I felt like things became very repetitive for me and almost mundane and I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to exercise the clinical part of my brain. How did you get better at the interview process when applying for this role? I watched lots of YouTube videos to help me prepare for the interview questions and also researched the role I was interviewing for thoroughly. Time and practice also play a part - I definitely accepted some interviews just to get the practice in especially as I hadn’t interviewed for anything in 3 years. Is there an experience/ conversation that has heavily impacted your career journey? Definitely ! Being a pharmacy manager at 23, immediately after qualifying as a pharmacist and my first official job as a pharmacist. I had to learn how to manage people that were significantly older than me. I had the final say on the day to day running of the pharmacy. As a branch manager I also had to think of things from a business perspective - something I’ve never done before. Ultimately it made me grow at an exponential rate, but this came at a cost. I worked really long hours and didn’t really have a work/life balance. It felt like I was living to work and was burnt out. I also felt like I’d “peaked” in this sector and couldn’t see how I could grow further. This eventually led to me leaving this position for the one I’m in now. Have you been able to take care of yourself and maintain a good work-life balance currently? ( Any tips/ realistic struggles you are currently dealing with?) I am definitely able to take care of myself better now. I am still learning how to truly “switch off” and leave work at work. With my current role I have to be enrolled on an 18 month long course, which means I’m back to being in full time employment and studying on the side. So I always have to put everything into a calendar so I don’t miss deadlines and give myself enough time to prepare for my assessments which can be challenging sometimes. Knowing what you know now, would you have done the same undergrad degree I would, as difficult as it was , especially because the role of pharmacist has evolved so much since my first year of university. I’ll just prepare mentally myself better for the challenge of the pre-registration training year because it’s not spoken about enough. What are the benefits of doing an integrated masters course - It’s cheaper than doing an undergrad and coming back from a masters, For me personally if I’d graduated from an undergraduate degree I don’t know if I would have returned to university for a masters. Also if i wanted to pursue a more lab-based scientific career and not pharmacy having a masters would have been very beneficial. Did you always imagine you would be at this stage in your career- especially having felt “peaked” at an early stage? I really didn’t but in university when looking at the different paths I could take in pharmacy I knew I wanted to eventually be in a clinical setting but I didn’t know what that would look like or how I’d get there but looking back the “peak” moment ended up being a stepping stone to where I am now What advice would you give someone wanting to follow the same path ? I would say always keep your vision or personal goal in mind with whatever you do, be intentional with your actions but if you find yourself in a situation you haven’t planned for that’s still okay there’s always transferable skills to be gained from every position. Also speak to your peers and people you trust for advice or ideas a problem shared is a problem half solved. The Pharmacy world is so vast career wise, what are some key lessons you’ve learnt and what excites you about the field? I’ve learnt that you should not let fear stop you from exploring whatever you want to. Upskilling is key to progression in any industry, If you have a particular area of interest research into role and try to network with people in that industry (linkedIn is very good for this). I think the evolution of the role of a pharmacist has been very exciting and it feels like we are being used to our full potentials in clinical settings. I have my eye set on completing a prescribing course in the near future too. How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you? My underlying passion hasn’t changed, I always wanted to be in a field where I helped people in some capacity. When I was in community pharmacy I did this more when I received 111 referrals for minor ailments or had consultations for travel, COVID and flu vaccinations. I realised checking prescriptions was not my favourite thing to do and being a manager taught me that I did not enjoy the “business” part of pharmacy as it felt less patient- centred naturally. Being in a clinical setting I have now developed new interests from different patient interactions and scenarios i’m exposed to. Have you had a mentor? - how has that impacted your career Journey? No, but I don’t think you need one to get into a PCN clinical pharmacist role. I think for roles in industry then a mentor would be more advantageous. I finally made the leap during the pandemic, after administering thousands of vaccines and getting feedback from patients and other healthcare professionals on my injection technique. Working as a community pharmacist may not have been for you business wise but you have started an Aesthetics service . What motivated this and how do you see that growing ? So I started my journey in aesthetics because it was something I’ve had interest in since I discovered the industry in university. Prior to this I was always interested in the beauty industry as a whole and finding something that merged both my scientific background and interest in beauty it felt like a natural fit. I finally made the leap during the pandemic, after administering thousands of vaccines and getting feedback from patients and other healthcare professionals on my injection technique. With that being said the aesthetics industry in the U.K. is currently unregulated and as someone who’s entire professional career is based on patient centred care it didn’t sit right with me to just complete a short course and embark on injecting. I also sought advice from a cosmetic surgeon and aesthetic practitioner on how to best approach embarking on this journey, this led me to enrol on a “Level 7 diploma in facial aesthetics” course. I see the business growing naturally because the beauty industry is just so big and there’s a continuous rise in people seeking non-surgical cosmetic procedures. My take is if you’re going to undertake such a procedure even though it’s not “Invasive” it is still a medical procedure and should be carried out by individuals who are knowledgeable on the products being used, licensing, techniques and complications. I’m not for aggressive marketing because ultimately not everyone is a good candidate for these procedures and unfortunately not enough practitioners tell their patients that. In a nutshell I see a natural growth for the business but I am not putting pressure on it or myself because I run the risk of losing sight of why I started in the first place. Outside science how would you describe yourself? I would describe myself as friendly and outgoing. I love a stress free and soft life and I like experiencing new things and having fun.

  • BSc Sports Therapy to PhD and Physiotherapist

    Name : Rhian (she/her) Job Title: PhD Candidate and Band 5 Physiotherapist A levels/ equivalent - Biology, Spanish, Physical Education Undergrad and post grad degrees- BSc Sports Therapy, MSc Physiotherapy Journey in 3 Words: unexpected, amazing, fast Briefly describe your current role I am currently in the 3rd year of my PhD investigating Depression and Hip Fracture and I'm also a part time Band 5 Physiotherapist. I am investigating Depression and Hip Fracture and looking at the prevalence and patterns of depression and depressive symptoms in hip fracture patients and then looking to see what role physiotherapy rehabilitation plays in improving patient outcomes What motivated you to pursue a career in science ? I always had an interest in Biology at school and combined it with my love of sport and found Physiotherapy the perfect fit What is a typical week like for you? I work from home doing my research work 4 days a week so mainly sitting behind computer screens or occasionally in a coffee shop and then on a Wednesday I'm at the hospital where I currently work in Neurology Outpatients seeing patient's who have MS, had a stroke etc. Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality? my research days are quite varied as some weeks/days I'm analysing data, or writing up a paper or preparing to present at conferences or planning for other projects like focus groups etc. I do get bored easily so the fact that I'm not doing the same task everyday works perfectly for me What is an insight you gained about your job only after you started? Science (particularly quantitative science where I'm doing secondary analysis of datasets requires A LOT of coding) How did you know a PhD was for you ? I didn't at first, but i fell into being a research assistant and realised i liked research, my supervisor at the time who later became a mentor asked if I had considered doing a PhD. I hadn't but then started thinking I would enjoy doing one. I got the opportunity to start it a lot sooner than I had planned but felt I couldn't pass on the opportunity so started my PhD a month after completing my masters in Physiotherapy, at the same time I didn't want to lose my clinical skills so I managed to get a band 5 one a day a week part time Physiotherapy job (which doesn't really exist). Mentorship and nurturing spaces are key to an enjoyable PhD, how has yours made this journey easier for you and what advice would you give people looking for more support? I have an angel of a supervisor who I had worked with for 3 years on and off before I started my PhD so we already had a great working relationship and literally anything I need, she's always there to help/advise, basically whatever I need so she's made this whole process a whole lot easier How do you maintain a good work-life balance both doing a PhD and working- not sure, as I don't know if I do ahah, I just try to make a conscious effort to meet up with friends and family and get fresh air and natural light everyday but there are definitely times when I feel like I'm just working constantly What excites you the most about your research ? The impact it'll hopefully have on patient's who are struggling What advice would you give on picking universities - look at the student life of the area, the modules/supervisors, and student satisfaction (you could do this by asking current students of the university) Are there a list of common skills as a physiotherapist and PhD student you think people should be aware of ?- Critical thinking, problem solving, project management, presenting, evidence based practice What advice would you give on dealing with rejection and perseverance? Never let it deter you, along every step of my journey I've had rejections but i just kept going and i always ended up getting something better than i had initially hoped up What were your perceptions of being a scientist before you started your course? I'd seen quite a range of scientists before so it seemed very varied and wide What career paths did you feel were available to you before you started your course and how has that changed now? I thought I'd have to choose between being a clinical Physiotherapist or a researcher but now I know there are many pathways that I could take that allow me to do both Outside science how would you describe yourself ? very into sports, an avid baker and I lovee spending time with my family and friends

  • PMS: How do I survive my period?

    Trying to get things done, while wanting to quit everything on a random monday comes as a shock that is only explained when I check which week it is ! Yep … My period is due next week ! For something that is so regular ,it is clear through increased online conversation that the physical and non physical pains are an annoying occurrence that continuously surprises and changes over the years. Menstrual health is poorly understood from the time of your first period (menarche) into adulthood. Whichever age you experienced it, your cycle and the emotions attached to them have probably changed as you aged.The general consensus is most experience at least one symptom due to their menstrual cycle. If your cycle is just another day- how does it feel to be a chosen one? To everyone that has had to abruptly pay attention to their cycle, you end up shocked with how little you knew. My interest in periods began after experiencing really heavy periods and being diagnosed with PCOS. With heavy and irregular periods, as a 17 year old with good skin the idea of birth control pills that could lead to skin problems was a deterrent so the only other options were to wait it out or do something about it. Outside of PCOS there are many uterine related health issues that go unspoken and are poorly understood including: endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, pelvic adhesion and more. In addition to the physical manifestations there are commonly reported emotional issues and mood changes that come with the menstrual cycle which will be the main focus of this post. The question of what is ‘normal’ for my body - when do my periods seem bearable? and when is it too much? - I began to ask as I got older . With the rise in cycle tracking apps, we get a small glimpse into ALL the symptoms faced in real time. The apps seem to be doing a good job in having more people in tune with their ‘normal’- but something is still missing ! As the menstrual cycle is a process starting due to failed fertilisation. A lot of the conversation and research falls around this very fact of what affects the health of the uterus. If its function is to maintain a pregnancy, findings and conversations are directed to improving a person's ability to have children. In treating disease or abnormality there is a focus to get it to ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ and in the context of menstrual cycles this becomes incredibly varied outside of the extremities of disease. World Health Organization, “health” is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Online conversations have become louder around the burdens of menstruation. Even with regular periods and the absence of disease, the build up to the event is a burden for many. I really wanted to dig deep into what’s being said in the research world on ‘normal menstrual health’ to figure out how I survive with my period and feel less like I'm in crisis every month? Women's health is under researched and underfunded ! A simple search of ‘erectile dysfunction’ will bring up 28,000 papers from 1945 to date and for PMS ( premenstrual syndrome) less than half ( 10,079) in the same time period.In contrast to that hormonal contraceptive was founded in the 1950’s and little change has occurred to the effects felt by continuous use of hormonal contraceptives and specifically progesterone. In the current day, there are alternatives to that pill but for so long women had complained over the great mood changes and it remains a common problem. Somehow we’re just meant to ‘deal with it’. What affects my mood? And what’s being done about it? The simple answer is: Progesterone. High levels of progesterone is usually a sign of successful pregnancy. Progesterone is responsible for maintaining a thick uterus wall. In the events of failed fertilisation, the menstrual cycle starts soon after progesterone levels decrease. The menstrual cycle starts at the first indication of blood. That is day 1 of the cycle. This marks shedding of the uterus lining after failed fertilisation of an egg in the uterus. The cycle is split into two phases:follicular and luteal phase. The follicular phase is the first half of your cycle and the luteal phase is the second half of your cycle after ovulation has occurred. In this second phase progesterone levels rise, peak and decrease. Personally my mood changes are around two weeks before my next period. This coincides with the second half of the menstrual cycle - the ‘luteal phase’. This fits the evidence reported in science articles on menstrual cycles , what remains unclear is what exactly is my body responding to? And can I do anything about it ? Mood swings and anxiety ranked second in the list of most frequent symptoms in research analysed from FLO -period tracking app used mainly by young adults (18-37). Other symptoms included: cravings, fatigue, abdominal spasms, skin rashes, sleep-changes and more. Understanding these changes has led to a lot of discussion amongst researchers of different fields mainly biology and psychiatry. The extremities of menstrual health are more researched and understood than what is normal. Biology has been able to track the levels of progesterone in different disease states and conditions while psychiatry has been able to link some of these findings to mood disorders such as PMDD(Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and PPD( postpartum depression). This leaves everyone in the middle at a crossroads where maybe symptoms may not seem as extreme but noticeable enough to cause discomfort. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the general term used to describe the range of symptoms faced before the menstrual cycle. What do we understand about PMS? Mood changes and other symptoms that arise cyclically due to the menstrual cycle are referred to as PMS( premenstrual syndrome) and like most things regarding women's health it’s rooted in some controversy. PMS was initially termed to link emotional led behaviour to a trait only women possess. Early research in the US interrogated the woman's ability to make ‘sound decisions’ and occupy work spaces due to the menstrual cycle. The research world has rejected this idea but interestingly PMS itself is looked as an expected outcome of menstruation and remedies understandably focus on extreme cases where PMS progresses into PMDD or is exacerbated in other conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders. The clearest evidence supports progesterone as the root cause but it isn’t as straightforward. The uncertainty lies in a few key questions which aren’t fully understood: Is an increase only in progesterone responsible for mood change, Is sensitivity to changes in progesterone responsible for mood change ( increase or decrease)? Is a decrease only in progesterone levels responsible for the changes in mood Progesterone isn’t the only hormone involved in the menstrual cycle but only its fluctuations have been linked to mood disorders. In pregnancy the drop in progesterone levels at the end of pregnancy are linked to PPD (postpartum depression) and similarly decreases during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle have been linked to PMDD( premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Some women have been given progesterone to supplement this drop in levels of it but little changes have been seen in their mood. The benefits of progesterone supplement is yet to be supported by the scientific community. The menstrual cycle and mood changes cannot be explained by fluctuations of a single hormone as to function as humans there is an interplay of many things. It is quite difficult to isolate findings and in the chances they are, the effects are studied in such small subsets of people that just isn’t generalisable. In the studies that have tried to map changes in hormones with changes in the brain the most interesting was an increase in negative processing of emotions linked to that second phase(luteal phase). Other remedies such as diet, exercise and supplements for low mood are suggested. Without going into biological detail for each one the overarching conclusion is that all these additions nicely take remedies from other conditions of fatigue, depression, bloating and more to tackle the problem but we are yet to reach a stage of avoiding PMS altogether. I started this post hoping to find a definitive answer to the question of solving my PMS forever .The most definitive answer I have is - my feelings before my period aren’t all sporadic and PMS isn’t only a progesterone related problem and is a combination of processes that seem to start unknown and remedy themselves on their own - in that one week after bleeding that everything seems achievable again ! Period tracking apps such as FLO and CLUE have made it easier for many users to be aware of their cycle and common symptoms that may occur. These apps alongside the many other tracking and fertility apps have also aided the research community in analysing data directly from people not on the extremities of disease. FLO and CLUE have further confirmed on a larger scale mood changes due to the luteal phase, while FLO has additional features set to help users detect medical conditions by tracking symptoms entered and further discuss with a medical professional. This integration of personally led health and wellness reporting backed with more robust scientific study might be the new answers to fully understanding the role of progesterone or possibly something else in PMS. This breakthrough will not be able to happen without trust in the use of health data and full understanding of the scope of how such personal information is being handled. The implications of health apps in healthcare is a conversation for a different blog post ! Questions to think about ? Would you take part in larger studies focused on understanding menstrual health Have period tracking apps helped you have more ‘control’ over your cycle? Would you want your health data to be analysed by a private company or integrated with hospital health data? Would you want a drug to get rid of all the PMS symptoms? Do you need to understand the ‘WHY’ to PMS? References Brain and menstrual cycle: Brain Imaging and menstrual cycle: Melatonin for PMS: PMS overview( diagnosis and treatment) : Progesterone in the body: Menstrual cycle and cognitive function: Hormones and health tracking apps: Progesterone and all its functions: PMS data from FLO APP: Menstruation science and society: ( An amazing paper to read) - Nutrition: The gut microbiome and womens health: Nutrition and PMS :

  • MRes Oncology to PhD Cancer Sciences

    Name :Adesewa Adebisi Job Title: PhD Cancer Sciences A levels/ equivalent :Biology, Chemistry, Psychology Undergrad and post grad degrees: BSc Biochemistry MRes Oncology Favourite science fact If all the DNA in your body was put end to end, it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times Journey in 3 Words : Adapting, Growing and Fun Briefly describe your current role: My PhD is a non-clinical project titled “Investigating the impact of radiotherapy on the sensitivity of cancer cells to lymphocyte cytotoxicity”. In essence, radiotherapy is generally expected to have a therapeutic benefit to cancer patients, and has been proven to do so. However, based on recent findings from our group, radiotherapy has been found to negatively impact certain immune cells ability to kill cancer cells, in a transient manner. I will be expanding on some of this work in in vivo settings to determine the extent of these observations and hope to understand how this can influence future clinical trials and therapeutic interventions designs. What motivated you to pursue a career in science? I think my motivation is mostly due to genuine interest and curiosity about science. I have been interested in science from high school and to date, science has always left me wanting to find answers and to understand more about the world around me. What is a typical week like for you? Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality? Currently my week typically involves running a week time point experiment. I would set up my experimental assay on Monday and treat my cancer cells with radiotherapy and run a flow cytometry assay on Wednesday and Fridays (both of these days tend to be quite busy!). In between, I may have some meetings with certain external organisations I volunteer for. My days tend to be predictable, especially when I have planned my experiments beforehand. The unpredictable days are when things just do not go to plan and I would need to strategize and restart again. With my personality type, I like to have things planned or at least have a rough idea of what I am working, but stil allowing space for flexibility so my PhD ties in quite well with this. How did you know a PhD was for you? I knew my specific PhD would be for me because I found the project very interesting during learning more about it in the application process, but also because I was able to do a project that would serve to satisfy my scientific curiosity. The Path to PhD is very unique. What was your journey like and what advice would you give students wanting to apply? Oftentimes students are split into different groups, those who have had their minds set on doing a PhD since they came out of the womb, those who see it as the next best thing for career progression, some wanting to learn and others because it's the natural next step after a BSc/MSc . If any students belong to the latter, I would advice for students to really understand or have a clear idea what it is they would like to gain out of doing a PhD and would the *specific* PhD they are applying to offer them that. Speaking to lab group members (outside the PI) also helps to understand the working culture in the group. Most PhDs are 3-4 years and you would want to join a group you can learn and grow in, and not one where communication or team ethic is not present, Having worked in academia and research as an Educational officer and Scientific Officer before your PhD, what are the transferable skills you use currently in your PhD? Definitely communication skills - learning how to listen to people in a team, troubleshoot and come up with ideas and learning how to work within a team and making your voice heard What resources helped you most during your career journey ( you can also talk about the lack of resources if applicable)? Hm, LinkedIn was very helpful in exposing me to alternative career outside academia and my university does a great deal in bringing alumni from pharma, medical, academia and alternative routes for networking opportunities and to share their experience. How have mentors contributed to your career journey and what tips would you give on building a genuine relationship. Mentors have been very helpful! Either indirectly through friends in the field or through programmes I had signed up to. Sharing knowledge, insider tips about what the application process actually looks like and writing a good CV has been very beneficial. The main advice I would give is to be genuine and clarify expectations. This woud look like at your first meeting, discussing what communication would be like practically , so down to finer details like frequency and style. Being open and honest , often times we want to bring forward our most ‘polished’ self forward in mentor-mentee relationships but I find that in the not-so-polished areas are where my mentors has been able to help me so much more. For your current role, what application / interview top tip would you give? Always reach out to lab group members and supervisors before applying for a particular project. It would be a good chance to ask important questions relating to the supervision style - are they accessible or more of an hands off approach? Does the lab group spend time together, outside the lab? What is the working culture of the group and are there any requirements outside the PhD project that would be required e,g, supervising MSc students. You’ll be spending around 4 years with a lab group so I cannot stress how important it is to make sure it is also a right fit for you also! It’s a two-way interview, so you need to check the group is where you want to be. What is your biggest pet peeve about how the world perceives science ? Hm, this would be the level of scepticism that people have around certain types of research Outside science how would you describe yourself? I would say I am someone who really loves to find joy in life, enjoy God and relationship with people around me . Read Adesewa's first profile here: From Biochemistry to Education Officer:

  • Biosciences to Pharmacovigilance Operations

    Name :Rufaida Hamad (she/her) Job Title: Pharmacovigilance Operations and Compliance Graduate A levels/ equivalent :Biology, Psychology, English Language and Applied Science Undergrad and postgrad degrees : Undergrad: BSc Human Biosciences Postgrad: MSc Medical Affairs Favourite science fact:The Majority of Earth's Oxygen Is Produced by Oceans. Journey in 3 Words :Challenging, Exciting and enlightening Briefly describe your current role I currently work as a Pharmacovigilance Operations and Compliance Graduate within a global Japanese pharmaceutical company. My role focuses on patient safety and the monitoring of medicinal products (either in clinical trials or post-marketing). What motivated you to pursue a career in science? I had a strong desire to contribute to patient well-being, but I didn't envision myself as a healthcare professional working in hospital environments. Instead, I made the decision to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry, which plays a crucial role in ensuring patients receive the medications they need. This career path allows me to make a significant impact on patient care without direct contact with individuals in a hospital setting. What is a typical week like for you? In a typical week, my schedule is filled with numerous meetings related to various projects and involving different functions like regulatory affairs and medical affairs. Additionally, there are training sessions tailored to the specific projects, which are particularly helpful for me as a new graduate, as there is a lot to learn. One of my key responsibilities is managing safety reports that originate from different parts of the world where our medicines are authorised. My main focus is to kickstart the case processing for these reports. What has excited you the most in your journey from Human biosciences to medical affairs? One of the most exciting aspects for me was transitioning from a science-based degree that was primarily confined to the laboratory to being able to apply that knowledge in an industry setting. It brought me great joy (and relief) to realise that life science degrees offer diverse career paths beyond traditional lab work. Pursuing studies in medical affairs opened up an entirely new world in healthcare for me. It allowed me to contribute to patient well-being and provided opportunities to connect and collaborate with industry leaders specialising in various disciplines. This exposure broadened my understanding of the healthcare field and enriched my professional network. Is there an experience/ conversation that has heavily impacted your career journey? A key experience was volunteering in a hospital within the oncology unit. This experience made me realise that I don't have the emotional capacity to witness critically ill patients and I would often dwell on it when I got home. I knew I had a passion for health but did not want to be a healthcare professional in that environment. This was a useful experience as it allowed me to reach a conclusion early on. What advice regarding your industry would you give someone wanting to follow the same path and study the same degree? I strongly recommend considering a placement year during your undergraduate studies within a pharmaceutical company or the specific industry you aspire to work in. This experience can provide you with a valuable head start in your career. If a placement year is not feasible, I highly recommend pursuing a summer internship or attending networking events related to your field of interest. These opportunities can offer practical experience, industry exposure, and the chance to connect with professionals in your desired industry. Both placement years and internships are excellent ways to gain practical skills, enhance your resume, and increase your chances of securing a job after graduation. Have you had a mentor and how has that contributed to your career journey? Although I haven't had a formal mentor, I have encountered incredibly supportive individuals throughout my journey whom I reached out to via LinkedIn or networking events. These encounters have proven to be invaluable in terms of guidance and advice. By proactively seeking connections and reaching out to professionals in my field, I have been fortunate to engage with helpful individuals who have shared their insights and offered assistance. These informal mentorship relationships have played a significant role in my personal and professional development, and I highly recommend utilising platforms like LinkedIn and attending networking events to establish connections and seek guidance from experienced professionals. How did your internship during your Msc benefit you? And what advice would you give for choosing a masters course? The internship I undertook was so important for my personal and professional development. It provided me with a unique opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I acquired during my studies to real-life scenarios within a pharmaceutical company. It was during this internship, particularly in the field of medical affairs, that I gained a deep understanding of how a pharmaceutical company operates and how different functions collaborate. Working alongside a remarkable team, I received invaluable guidance and built connections with individuals who were truly dedicated to patient care. This experience not only enhanced my practical knowledge but also strengthened my commitment to making a positive impact on patients' lives. More specifically, the internship provided me with experience that I was able to talk about in job interviews. For example, we were able to sit in during meetings, listen to valuable discussions regarding strategies for patient care etc. In terms of advice:I would tell students to deep dive into their interests and not to do a masters for the sake of it as it can be very intense. I woud recommend to look into different career routes and see which masters would be more beneficial for that specific field. Also, speak to students either currently studying the course or Alumni as there is only so much information you can get from the website. You run an amazing page called @medscienceminds, what are the motivations and future goals of the page? Throughout my academic journey, there was a lack of guidance on the different career paths following a life science degree. Also, being naturally indecisive, I opted for a broad undergraduate degree to keep my options open. However, it seemed like my entire cohort was focused on laboratory work or pursuing medicine/dentistry, which made me feel like the odd one out. I lacked the necessary resources and knowledge to explore other potential career paths and had to do a lot of independent research. This motivated me to start medscienceminds as I don't want students from a similar background to go through the same struggles I faced. My aim is to create a community of like-minded individuals who enjoy learning, are driven to progress, and seize every opportunity available to them. I aspire to act as a mentor for students who find themselves in a similar position to mine, providing guidance and support. Additionally, I hope to serve as a valuable source of information for those interested in the pharmaceutical industry. The best places to follow me would be Instagram as I am most active on there but people can also follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok. People should look out for more ‘practical’ initiatives that I am trying to work on to hopefully provide students work experience in some way. With the lack of career guidance out there, where do you think universities are getting it wrong? I think the key issues are: Insufficient integration of practical experiences: While theoretical knowledge is important, universities should prioritise incorporating practical experiences, such as internships, industry projects, or work placements, into the curriculum. These opportunities can provide students with real-world exposure, hands-on skills, and a better understanding of the demands and expectations of the job market. Lack of networking and industry connections: Building a professional network is crucial for career development. Universities can enhance their efforts by actively fostering connections with alumni, industry professionals, and organisations. Hosting networking events, guest speaker sessions, and mentorship programs can help students establish valuable relationships and gain insights into various career paths. This was something King’s College London was amazing at doing as they provided us with lots of networking opportunities. Do you feel like scientist salaries reflect the amount of effort put in ? Generally, I think that graduate salaries are not sufficient considering the level of education and qualification attained. Often, entry-level roles often demand significant prior experience, which can create challenges for recent graduates. To secure employment opportunities, it is increasingly necessary to go beyond academic achievements and engage in networking activities and gain relevant work experience. These additional efforts are often seen as essential for opening doors and establishing connections in the professional world. What advice would you give your younger self ? If I were to give advice to my younger self, I would emphasise the importance of not excessively worrying about the future and instead, savouring the present moment. It's not necessary to have everything figured out all the time, and it's perfectly alright to embrace uncertainty. I would encourage myself to recognize that opportunities are limitless and that confidence and taking risks are essential in unlocking my full potential. By being proactive and putting myself out there, I can explore diverse avenues and pave the way for personal and professional growth. What is your biggest pet peeve about how the world perceives science ? My pet peeve is the misconception that science is only relevant in certain contexts or that it is disconnected from everyday life. Science plays a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world, addressing societal challenges, and driving technological advancements. Yet, it is often seen as something reserved for scientists in laboratories, rather than a discipline that affects and influences various aspects of our lives. This perception can lead to a lack of appreciation for scientific research, funding cuts for scientific endeavors, and limited public engagement in scientific discussions. Addressing this pet peeve involves promoting science education, fostering a culture of scientific curiosity, and emphasizing the relevance and impact of science in our daily lives. I think COVID has been a key example of how we all need to value science and be able to understand certain concepts related to disease. Outside science how would you describe yourself I have a friendly and outgoing personality, and I find joy in traveling and spending quality time with my loved ones. Exploring new destinations is a passion of mine, allowing me to broaden my horizons and create amazing memories. Equally, I appreciate the serenity of relaxing activities, such as reading a captivating book on the beach. Balancing adventure and tranquility brings me a sense of fulfillment and contentment in life.

  • Bsc Natural Sciences/Neuroscience to Medical Affairs

    Name : Alex( he/him) Job Title: Graduate Intern - Medical Affairs A levels/equivalent: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Extended Project Qualification Undergraduate degree: BSc in Natural Sciences specialising in Neuroscience Favourite science fact: the language you speak can drastically effect the way your mind works and the way you see the world compared to a speaker of a foreign language Journey in 3 Words: Seizing the moment! Briefly describe your current role I work in Medical Affairs for a large pharmaceutical company, where I help respond to enquiries from nurses and doctors about our products. I also work across different disease areas, and work on projects to make sure I contribute as much as possible to the daily activities of Medical Affairs. In doing so, I maintain a strong understanding of the therapeutic areas that the company specialises in, and use this knowledge to aid healthcare professionals and improve patient outcomes. What motivated you to pursue a career in science ? Multiple things. I have always been curious about the world around me and thinking deeply about the processes that drive our everyday lives. After A levels, the opportunity to study neuroscience seemed too good to pass up. In pursuing this opportunity I could apply my understanding of chemistry to the biochemistry and biology of the brain and how this impacts our lives from daily decision making, to the development of neurological disease. Doing so felt incredibly rewarding, and the next step was to try and find a career pathway that would let me apply this knowledge to help others. As a student, my understanding of the professional landscape was that any specialism I chose would define where I take my career for the rest of my life. What's an insight from your field you gained only after getting your role? After starting my role, I quickly came to understand the level of opportunity available to new professionals. As a student, my understanding of the professional landscape was that any specialism I chose would define where I take my career for the rest of my life. I thought there’d be limited opportunities to upskill myself in activities I missed at university, and that unless I took a postgraduate degree, my BSc represented the final step in my learning journey. This could not be further from the case. Beyond university there are endless opportunities to pivot/direct your career, even change industry altogether. If you’re lucky, these opportunities will be provided by your employer and you’ll have a good support network to help you get through periods of transition and uncertainty. What is a typical day like for you and which skills do you enjoy using the most and which ones have you needed to learn and work on to suit the role?: Day to day, I spend a lot of time networking and collaborating with different people in the company. I enjoy any opportunity to learn, not just about science but important career development and professional skills. I have had to learn to be as agile as possible, and capable to adapt swiftly to major change, which is something you’ll see a lot of in the pharmaceutical industry. You did a broad Bsc degree in Natural Science specialising in Neuroscience what was that like and what advice would you give someone wanting to study the same degree? The course was quite intense, at first feeling like studying 4 different subjects. It wasn’t until later modules where the bigger picture starts to form and you see how psychology, biology and philosophy all contribute greatly to the pursuit of neuroscientific research. I would say anyone who wants to study this degree should approach it with curiosity, and be ready to digest a lot of advanced concepts. The reward at the end of it is huge though, and it’s incredible to study in a discipline that’s on the precipice of being the next major milestone in scientific discovery! How important were the experiences and activities such as extracurricular research projects contribute to the “value” of your degree? I think they were incredibly important for building my CV and showing my commitment to personal development. At interview, I often had quite a lot to talk about on my CV as I tried to make it as broad as possible, while still capturing a scientific focus. Some of the best projects I worked on at University were ones I had to reach out and look for, which gave me experience in approaching others for career development opportunities. I think the soft skills you pick up from doing so (networking, collaboration, communication) are just as valuable as the specialised skillset you develop in the projects. For many early graduates the interview process can be quite daunting what application / interview top tip would you give ? The biggest piece of advice is to exude confidence - difficult when you’re nervous, I know! Interviewers will pick up on a lot more than you think, just from your natural body language. Interviewing is all about putting your best foot forward, and if you can come across as confident - even if you don’t feel it - you’ll make a great impression. I would advise people to approach interviews as a professional conversation with someone you’d genuinely be interested to work with. Employers want someone who is engaged. Challenging interviewers with insightful questions and making them think is a great way of shifting the pressure and showing confidence! Knowing what you know now, would you have done the same undergrad degree? I would definitely put myself forward for the research projects and extracurricular activities I did. How did you stay motivated during you degree and maintain a passion for your field currently? Motivation for me came from learning. I found the more effort I put into my projects, the more I was getting out of them. In a field like Neuroscience, there is so much uncharted territory that we’re yet to explore and understand, so that opportunity to learn isn’t going away any time soon! What were your perceptions of being a scientist before you started your course?: I thought that being a scientist meant having 2 career options: either 1) lab work or 2) research/academia. It wasn’t until I started to explore industry roles that I realised this wasn’t the case, and that there’s a whole world of different opportunities that need life science graduates. How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you?: Before my third year of University, I had no idea what I wanted to use my degree for. Discovering that skills I learned on my course could be a force for good and help improve patient lives was a pivotal moment for me. When I realised this passion, I knew that I wanted a career in pharmaceuticals. Is there an experience/ conversation that has heavily impacted your career journey?: Getting. A. Mentor ! Without question it was talking to someone who was willing to help me understand the industry I was looking to join. Apart from giving me an accurate idea of what my career would look like, my mentor was amazing at keeping me motivated and focused on getting my first role. I really owe a lot to her and probably wouldn’t be here without her. I met my mentor through my University’s Mentorship portal. This was a directory of alumni who were offering their mentorship to current students - it was as simple as sending an introductory email explaining why I wanted a mentor and a general idea of my career development plans. Some advice I would give to current students is to get as much value out of your University fees as possible. The fees you pay give you access to a lot of fantastic resources - not just your study program - and can go a very long way to giving you focus on where you want to take your career. Outside science how would you describe yourself? I would describe myself as compassionate, curious and driven. I have quite a competitive spirit, which translates a lot even when I’m just messing about with friends 😅. I value connection strongly and always love to meet new people and hear new ideas. In terms of hobbies, I enjoy letting my hair down with friends and family, going to gigs/festivals, exploring nature, playing guitar and cooking.

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