AlumniDr Samantha Kerr

Position at time of writing: Chief Scientific Officer, Merz Aesthetics®️

Course studied: BSc (Hons) Biochemistry and Immunology, 1994

Tell us a bit about your background.

I was born in Scotland and lived in different countries as I grew up. I came back to Scotland when I was 11 years old, to Dumfries, and then moved to Glasgow to study at the University of Strathclyde.

Why did you choose Strathclyde?

I have always leaned into my connection to science, so when it came time to continue my education and identify a career path, focusing on this field was the most obvious option for me.

I chose to attend the University of Strathclyde because of its established and esteemed reputation for sciences. The University offered a prestigious joint honours programme and the courses and curriculum aligned with my educational aspirations. I graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Biochemistry and Immunology.

Where are you now?

After my time at the University of Strathclyde, I went on to complete my PhD in Biochemical Parasitology at the University of Glasgow. During my PhD, I was introduced to the world of pharmaceutical drug development, and I was fascinated by the whole process.

Once I received my PhD, I moved to London and started as a Medical Writer/Clinical Scientist at a Phase 1 Drug Development Unit, testing new drugs in healthy volunteers. After several years working in pharmaceuticals, I then joined a company and worked in the medical aesthetics space on dermal fillers and neuromodulators.

Currently, I lead Merz Aesthetics’ Research and Development team with over 200 scientists around the world. My team and I are responsible for driving innovation and bringing new products to the market.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career thus far would be joining the Merz Aesthetics team as the Chief Scientific Officer. Around the time I joined the team back in 2020, Merz Aesthetics became the world’s largest global medical aesthetics business. At that time, I was given an opportunity to build and lead the Research and Development team that drives the growth of the company pipeline.

What are your ambitions for the future?

In my own career, I have been supported and mentored by a strong network of individuals in STEM. My ambition for the future is to return the favour and continue to mentor others within the field and provide them with the necessary tools, knowledge, and skills to succeed. I emphasise the importance of mentorship in all that I do and work every day to pave the way for the next generation of scientists.

As a scientist and C-Suite executive, what is your advice for women in traditionally male-dominated fields?

Women should feel empowered to be their most authentic selves and pursue the opportunities that enrich their lives. No matter the people around you or their feelings, be confident in your own voice and be willing to lead. Don’t apologise for being who you are and don’t worry about the opinions of others, as hard as it can be sometimes.