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PhD Clinical Research Medicine to Medical Science Liaison

  • Name :James Bolaji (he/him)

  • Job Title: Medical Science Liaison

  • A levels: Biology, Chemistry, Maths and PE

  • Graduate degrees

  1. Pharmacology BSc

  2. PhD in Clinical Research Medicine

Journey in 3 Words: Marathon not race

  • What motivated you to pursue a career in science?

I was always interested in science but wasn’t keen on studying medicine (didn’t want to be that type of doctor). I saw pharmacology as a great way to understand the way medicines can be used to treat disease and save lives on quite a large scale.

  • Briefly describe your current role

I work within a medical affairs team to be be a bridge between the pharmaceutical industry and clinicians (doctors, nurses and pharmacists) and act as a point of contact for non promotional/medical queries. Within this role I also run medical projects such advisory boards and scientific workshops within my therapy area to further scientific knowledge and also understand the needs of clinicians and patients in this area.

  • What transferable skills do you use from your degrees ( Bsc and Phd) now in your job?

The ability to research and run simultaneous projects. No day is the same and it’s always important to stay on top of the latest data for when it comes up in discussions with the clinicians you work with.

  • You’ve had a few roles within the clinical research field ( Medical Science Liaison, Scientific communications project manager and Account executive ) what advice would you give anyone wanting to follow your career path

If medical affairs is a long term goal, then there’s no rush to get there. Working in a startup was a really good opportunity to learn a few different skills before starting in medical affairs. I’m able to use those skills now in the various projects I’m involved in.

  • How did your internship abroad better position you for roles within clinical research?

Really gave me a deeper understanding of the industry and all the different jobs you can do with science degrees.

  • How did you know a PhD was for you?

I wanted to get the doctor title and was also quite young after doing my BSc and really wanted to get most of my studying out of the way before working. I also found a really great supervisor who helped guide me through and I think that’s even more key than the subject you do your PhD in

  • Reflecting on your journey ( the good and bad) What advice would you give someone wanting to apply for a PhD?

A few different aspects you should consider (in this order of priority): the supervisor, the institution (useful for building your network), the subject (try to be as broad as possible, if you don’t want to stay in academia forever)

  • How have you grown from rejection? And what would you tell a younger version of you?

Rejection is a part of life and though it can hurt, you need to learn to carry on until you achieve whatever it is you are trying to do. Important also to reflect on rejection but purely through the lens of how to improve for after.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully, I’m still loving whatever I’m doing, involving all the things I love: medicine, research and digital projects.

  • What advice would you give to people regarding salaries in your field?

Talk about your salary with your peers and with people you want to work with. You are not a charity and a salary is important as it can help with whatever life you want to lead outside of working. That being said, money will always come when you’re happy in what you’re doing and can excel.

  • What is your biggest pet peeve about how the world perceives science

That pharma is purely out to get money. There are divisions (e.g. medical affairs) who’s sole purpose is non promotional (commercial) that you can still really contribute to making sure patients have access to the best medicines they need.

  • Outside science how would you describe yourself

I would say I’m quite easy going and try to have as much as fun as possible. It’s important to work hard but keep some balance, which makes it all worth it.

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