What did you do before you joined us at Pharmaxo Scientific?

I loved science at school, and I thought about becoming a doctor. I volunteered on a stroke ward at a local hospital for a couple of years from 16, helping out the clinical and housekeeping teams. While I really enjoyed it, I realised that medicine wasn’t what I really wanted.

I looked into pharmacy next and worked in a local chemist for four years part-time. Again, I enjoyed it, and the pharmacist was a great teacher, but I realised that I was more interested in the medicines themselves and how they worked than the role of a pharmacist.

I looked into courses at university and went to the University of Bath to study pharmacology. My course was an integrated Master’s degree with an industry placement.

What drew you to joining us at Pharmaxo Scientific?

I was due to start a placement with the proteomics company Cellzome, but this was put on hold when the company entered discussions with GlaxoSmithKline. This put me in a difficult situation as the placement was a vital part of my degree. Bath ASU was a spinout from the University of Bath, and the university put me in touch. At very short notice, I was given an 18-month placement in the R&D team.

Things went so well that the company offered to sponsor me on a four-year PhD. I spent my research time solving real problems and creating new techniques, many of which are currently in use at the company.

My next step was research as part of the Innovate UK-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) in place with Bath ASU and the University of Bath. This allowed me to have an academic supervisor as well as support from Bath ASU and Innovate UK. I worked on methods required for the assessment of stability for advanced biotherapeutics, which allows us to extend medicinal product shelf lives. The KTP broadened my scientific skills set, gave me training in business and financial forecasting, and allowed me to expand my network at the university and with scientists I met at conferences.

I then joined Pharmaxo Scientific full time, as a senior scientist and then deputy principal scientist. As a senior scientist I focused on advancing techniques and working in quality management. Now I am deputy principal scientist, I am expanding my management, mentoring and coaching skills, and balancing my day between my own research work and supporting my team. The work I do improves patient access to lifechanging medicines, and each role has given me new skills in technology, business and management.

What keeps you going to work every day?

There’s a feeling of collaboration at Pharmaxo – I feel that I can put so much of myself into the work and the team. The team has people from a range of scientific backgrounds, from biology and chemistry to pharmacology, genetics and forensics, and from both academia and industry.

I can organise my own workflow and decide what I am going to work on and what I am going to delegate. I can also support my team members in building their own skills and experience.

What are the current projects that you are excited about?

The group and the company are getting bigger – there’s so much room to grow within Pharmaxo for me and my team. We have outgrown our previous facilities and in January 2024 we move to a new office and lab space. This will help us deliver more studies through a more efficient laboratory layout.

I’m currently working on an enzyme assay which has been problematic, however we think we have identified the issue, which was the pH sensitivity of the enzyme. I’m also excited about giving a lecture on biopharmaceutical stability at the University of Manchester later this year. Stability is very important as it affects how safe and effective our medical products are.

What do you do as well as research?

I created the Science Park Gamers group, where we play board games, miniatures games and card games. As well as being fun, it’s a great way to meet people in different groups at the company, and to network in a social environment. It’s also good for people who work remotely and visit the site only occasionally, or for people who are new to the company, to get to know people.

I also ride motorbikes, and between spring and autumn I enjoy taking in the British countryside with my dad and brother who all ride. It’s a hobby that quickens the pulse and you can really work at becoming an excellent rider.

What would you say to someone thinking of taking a job at Phamaxo?

Every year Pharmaxo gets better. We do important work for patients and their families. This is a company where you can feel proud that you are doing something important.