I received my BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Wales, followed by an MSc in Molecular and Experimental Pathology from the University of Dundee and finally a PhD in motor neurone disease (MND) from Newcastle University. I then moved to the Institute of Psychiatry, London to working as a post-doctoral researcher on MND, before moving to the Institute for Animal Health, Compton to work on prion disorders. I finished my post-doctoral research career at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford studying MHC crystallography. My group at the Institute for Animal Health was relocating to Edinburgh about the time my grants were coming to an end. There was insufficient stability to relocate, so I decided to explore other avenues outside of research. One aspect I enjoyed from my research was communicating and discussing science, running journal clubs and presenting my research. Medical communications seemed to tick this box, as well as allowing me to use my scientific knowledge.
I attended several medical communications related events and began to understand the industry better. I applied to several medical communication agencies. After completing writing tests and interviews, I was offered roles at two agencies, ultimately accepting a position as an Associate Medical Writer at Watermeadow Medical in 2010.
My previous three agencies have been a mix of independent, investor-owned and part of a multi-national conglomerate. Oxford PharmaGenesis is independent, and this has real advantages as we have control over the work that we take on and the rate at which we grow. We can be agile, adapting to increasing workload and recruiting as needs arise. There is a real desire throughout the company to produce quality work for our clients, and be a leader in the medical communication industry. There is also a ‘family feel’, and senior management are always visible. There is, consequently, a very supportive structure through the company, and the well-being of the staff is a priority, which has been exemplified through the pandemic.
The opportunity to work alongside experts in a particular field who are directly involved in making a difference to patients’ lives is very rewarding. As a researcher, one is part of this process, but very much removed from point at which research translates into meaningful differences for patients. Medical communications provides you with the opportunity to be at the forefront of disease management, whether this is writing up clinical study reports and developing publications, or working alongside experts, and sometimes even patients, at meetings and congresses.