A Typical Day Working In Life Sciences

     
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Life sciences comprise a number of different fields and specialist areas. To help you to understand a typical working day within some of the key roles within life sciences, check out our handy guide below:

Analytical Chemist (Discovery)
Chemical Engineer
Data Sciences Manager
Epidemiologist
Pharmacologist
Statistician
Toxicologist    
Laboratory Technician  
Chemist (Process)
Clinical Research Project Manager
Drug Safety Officer

Analytical Chemist (Discovery)

What’s involved?

Working as an analytical chemist (Discovery) you will develop analytical and purification methods using chromatography to purify compounds before they go through to biological testing.

What does a typical day involve?

As part of a service group a typical day could involve checking the submission system to see what samples are in, then either start developing a method so a sample can be purified, or start purifying a sample.  You will have to multi-task so you can get as many samples run during the day as possible, without losing any quality.

It can be difficult to plan your day, as someone may have an urgent sample, or a sample may not behave as expected when you start purifying it.  You may have to run instrument checks to ensure the instrument is working correctly

Sometimes you will have meetings or courses with the rest of the department, or with external visitors, or could be involved with projects that are to do with something other than chromatography. 



Chemical Engineer

What’s involved?

You will have responsibility for all engineering activities on site – maintenance, capital budgets and projects and site utilities. You could also have a team that directly reports to you.

What does your typical day involve?

No two days are ever the same, but could involve:

  • reviewing a business case for a capital project
  • assessing the Engineering impact of a process change  
  • taking part in the investigation into a production issue
  • forecasting the annual capital budget and reviewing the weekly maintenance plans. 


Data Sciences Manager

What’s involved?

You will be responsible for delivery of high quality clinical trial data for statistical analysis.

What does your typical day involve?

You will liaise with different colleagues from across your organisation (eg. physicians, computer programmers, statisticians, clinicians, and departments such as regulatory affairs, health outcomes & contracts) to discuss various data quality aspects of your assigned clinical trials. The objective being to ensure that by the end of trial the data collected accurately reflects all events and tests that occurred throughout the duration of that trial.

Some aspects of your study may be outsourced. This is currently popular within this industry as it allows staff in the company to focus on the overall project. So as a result you will have frequent contact with third party companies (vendors) who process some aspects of our data.


Epidemiologist

What’s involved?

An epidemiologist looks at disease trends, identifying individuals who are at risk and analyses the impact of interventions such as drug and vaccination programmes.

What does a typical day involve?

You could work on a couple of project teams for clinical trials, so you have to be organised to keep a check on their development.  You could often write protocols for in house studies so you will have to get things reviewed and write analysis plans for data analysis.  You could liaise with people in other countries providing the opportunity to travel occasionally.


Pharmacologist

What’s involved?

As a pharmacologist in the early research stage, your role will involve studying how drug targets affect and act upon the disease mechanism within cells and tissues.

What does a typical day involve?

Most days are spent in the lab using cell and tissue cultures to look at the effect of drug targets,   analysing the data and writing up notes. You will then need to present your findings at group meetings.

A good proportion of your time will be working on your own, although most labs are open plan so there are always other people about that you can ask for help or advice about something.

You’ll be in charge of your own work, although your line manager will help prioritise your work. 


Statistician

What’s involved?

A statistician within the pharmaceutical industry could work on later stage trials, such as post-marketing and label extension studies.  Statisticians collect, analyse and interpret numerical data for government, business, health care and scientific use. They give advice based on their results and analyses. Statisticians need to be able to explain their methods and results clearly, both verbally and in writing.

What does your typical day involve?

A typical day can include being involved in the discussion of trial designs, the writing of analysis plans and the reviewing of analyses. You could also be involved in non-project activities, such as organising training for other statisticians.


Toxicologist

What’s involved?

Working for a department that manages the relationship between the pharmaceutical company and organisations that it outsources toxicology research to will involve managing the day to day relationship and partnership with external companies and providing analysis on the external company’s service.

You will plan when research needs to take place, according to the point a drug is within the development cycle. You will then negotiate research slots with contractors. If there are any issues with the quality of work or if you need to negotiate new timelines, different experimental designs or need revised costs, you will need to liaise with all parties. Likewise if the contractor has any issues then you will deal with the issue or consult the scientists involved.

What does your typical day involve?

You will look at planning data and liaising with the scientists to decide which research need to be done and when it needs to be carried out. Quite often you will have to chase up scientists and check that they are happy for the research to go ahead and that the research is still required.

A lot of time is spent communicating with people, you will also be involved in a lot of planning meetings, and will negotiate with all contractors to schedule and confirm the work and let all the people involved know where the research is to be conducted and who the scientists are and also when data and reports can be expected


Laboratory Technician (biology)

What’s involved?

As a technician working in biomarker research, you could be involved in the early stages of drug development prior to testing of a treatment in humans. Certain departments focus on specific therapeutic areas (pain, urology, allergies and respiratory conditions). Working on biomarker research you could work on various projects within these departments, with the aim of increasing the understanding of how and when a drug is working in various models.

What does your typical day involve?

Most of your day could be lab based. You will need to prioritise project work. You could carry out a range of techniques, including cell culture, immunoassays and molecular biology techniques, such as PCR, cloning, and transfection. After an experiment you will analyse data, and decide what other experiments need to be done. You could be studying for your degree at the same time, so will probably spend a day a week at College or University.


Chemist (process)

What’s involved?

A research chemist needs to have excellent laboratory skills, an in-depth knowledge and understanding of organic chemistry. You could be responsible for designing suitable chemical syntheses of small molecules that have shown potential as drugs and making them on larger scales.

What does your typical day involve?

Most of your time will be spent in the lab, you could then have weekly meetings associated with your project, and departmental business.


Clinical Research Project Manager

What’s involved?

Working in a clinical research ​​department of an international pharmaceutical company, you could be involved in the company’s global trials. It will involve assessing the feasibility of a trial protocol, finding suitable investigators and trial ​​​sites and determining the number of patients that will be able to contribute, gaining ethics and MHRA approval, and managing the trial all the way through set-up, the recruitment phase and to its completion.

What does a typical day involve?

The tasks vary depending on the stages of the trials and whether the trial monitoring is out-sourced to a contract research organisation. For example you might be visiting an investigator and his team to discuss trial feasibility or be accompanying a Clinical Research Associate on a monitoring visit to evaluate the trial management.

You could be in the office completing paperwork for an ethics submission or a substantial protocol amendment. You might also be reviewing monitoring visit reports or be preparing for a team meeting to discuss trial and investigator site status. You could be responsible for ensuring essential paperwork is up to date and updating various e-tools used to manage and track all aspects of the trials.


Drug Safety Officer

What’s involved?

Working as a Drug Safety Officer within the Pharmacovigilance Department, you will monitor the safety of post-marketed products and products that are currently in development.

What does your typical day involve?

A large amount of time could be spent assessing adverse event reports. You could also work on either writing a periodic safety update report or quality checking one that has been written by another safety officer. You could be sending case reports to other offices, and you may enter data from the adverse event reports onto the safety database. You will usually work within a team but have your own roles and responsibilities to fulfil.

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