This post is written by Natasha Lindsay, a 2nd year PhD student at the IOPPN Department of Psychology researching neurocognitive and behavioural development of infants with epilepsy. She has been an Application Adviser with King’s Careers and Employability since September 2022.
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries offer exciting opportunities for individuals passionate about scientific advancements, healthcare, and innovation. The UK’s biotech sector specifically is one of the fastest-growing scientific business areas in the country. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field and want to know more about working inside the lab, we have some fantastic ‘best bits’ to share from the Discover Careers In: Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology panel. The discussions are led by a range of professionals in the industry, including Danielle Fairbrass, Senior Scientist at Oxford Biomedica, Anastasia Maslova, Senior Research Scientist at Sysmex UK, Simrah Mohammad, Associate Consultant at Prescient Healthcare Group and Shakanna Muruganandan, CMC Analytical Scientist at Vaccitech. Keep reading to find out what these professionals believe are the biggest pro’s to joining a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company.
Freedom to develop new ideas
Part of what makes a role in this industry so exciting is that there are constantly opportunities to work on new projects which are informed by advances in biological research techniques. This makes the work novel and exciting, and importantly gives you the freedom to propose new ideas as a research scientist based on the topics that you are interested in. For many, this means that the work you produce is meaningful and impactful in the real-world: from developing assays, to building workflows which inform clinical practice, you are given the chance to put your stamp on it. Based on your own ideas, the work you complete has the ability to directly affect patient care or business processes, for example.
Collaboration is integral to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, and is what draws many disciplines together to find scientific solutions. If you are the type of person who values building networks and working closely with multiple disciplines then this industry could be a great fit. Better known as ‘cross-functional teams’, the expertise from toxicology, bio-engineering, clinical research, pharmacology, manufacturing, legal, marketing and beyond all contribute to drug development success. Our panel emphasise that “exciting science is minds coming together from different viewpoints and areas of expertise”. It also means that there is increased flexibility in the type of environments you can work in, again providing further opportunity to connect with like-minded scientists.
Opportunities for industry movement and progression
As previously mentioned, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry is fast growing, which enables companies to recruit for a range of roles, for example Clinical Research Technician, Medical Lab Technician, Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Bioanalyst, Pharmacologist… and even more! This enables your exposure to an array of different experiences and responsibilities. From drug discovery and quality checking, to regulatory services, there is a broad range of work to learn from. With these opportunities for career exploration available, it can help you to narrow down specifically what areas of interest you have within the field.
What if I don’t have much lab experience?
For those who are interested in entering the industry with minimal lab experience, our panel members advise to not fret! A great way to introduce yourself to Pharma/Biotech is through reaching out to labs which you may be interested in and asking (via email) if you are able to shadow their lab work, or join as a placement student. Many labs receive central funding to support these opportunities for a few weeks so it is worth reaching out, and it shows you are proactive in your endeavours to gain relevant experience.
Go to the Careers and Employability Keats pages to hear the full recording of Discover Careers in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology and explore our Industry Information and Sector Guides including Introduction to the Bios Science Industry.