Clinical Pharmacologist

Clinical Pharmacologist

I know that what I do helps to improve the life of patients all around the world.

So what do you do?

I’m a Clinical Pharmacologist in a large pharmaceutical company.

What does your typical day involve?

Meeting with scientists from different areas and disciplines in my company, to discuss how we can put together all the evidence supporting a therapeutic hypothesis, and how we can translate it into mathematical models that can help us estimate its probability of success.

Do you work mostly on your own or as part of a team?

As part of many teams – I believe that all jobs are (or should be) always as part of a team.

What is it like socially where you work?

It feels like being in a big family. Unfortunately due to the Covid pandemic we haven’t had many chances of meeting face-to-face, but we’ve kept up social interactions through informal virtual coffee meetings, 1:1 chats, etc – it has really helped colleagues to feel valued and to hold on to a sense of purpose.

How long have you been in your current role?

Doing PK/PD modelling for 13 years. In my current position for almost 3 years.

What qualifications and experience do you have?

I’m a Chemist by training, and have a PhD in Quantum Chemistry and an MPhil in Crystallography. I learnt Chemoinformatics during my postdoc at the University of Cambridge, which led me to my first role in the pharmaceutical industry. There I eventually shifted the application of my skills from helping to minimise what the body does to our drug candidates onto optimising what the drug candidates can do to the body – this opened for me the door to Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) modelling.

When and why did you decide on a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

It was during my postdoc when I realised that a career in industry would give me a higher sense of achievement than a career in academia. I’m happy when I have a strong sense of purpose, with clear focus and with participation in interdisciplinary teams.

How has your career developed since you left university?

Seeking that sense of purpose, and then identifying people and roles that could help me stretch in the right direction and provide me with opportunities to advance towards fulfilling that purpose.

Do you think additional qualifications or experience would be an advantage for someone entering the industry now?

From my point of view, experience is more of an advantage than qualifications – this is why I would encourage students to make the most of apprenticeships and industrial internships.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I know that what I do helps to improve the life of patients all around the world.

What’s the biggest difference between working in academia and the pharmaceutical industry?

Working in pharma offers you an opportunity to innovate, to push the science, with a very well-defined objective, and with the expectation that you’ll work within interdisciplinary teams. Working in academia offers the opportunity to chase the science with the goal to understand, to discover something new and to dig deeper into it, working generally by yourself, without the pressure of innovating for a specific purpose.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

Don’t be afraid to ask – your neighbour who works in pharma, or the industry author of a paper that you really enjoyed. Be curious and, when you find something that really motivates you, chase it and bring others along.