I chose to study the MSc Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Strathclyde after graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a master’s in chemistry. Following my first masters, I went to work for Novartis in Austria and Germany, where I got involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing. I worked as a project manager in manufacturing at Lonza before opting to get my hands a bit dirtier in science and choosing the Industrial Biotechnology degree! I now work as a lead manufacturing biotechnologist at RoslinCT, where I manage a small team and manufacture cell and gene therapies.
What were your reasons for taking on a postgraduate degree?
I had quite a bit of experience in the project management side of manufacturing of pharmaceuticals but really wanted to get on the ‘shop floor’, so to speak, where I can have a direct impact on development and manufacturing. As this degree included an industrial placement, I thought this would be a great opportunity to push my boundaries and try to gauge my success in the practical areas of manufacturing.. Additionally, a wide variety of modules as part of the course were offered at different Scottish higher education institutions, which was an attractive aspect as it provided greater variety.
How did you make the decision to study at Strathclyde?
This degree was offered by Strathclyde, in combination with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC)and this was a particular factor in choosing to study here. The industrial links that the university maintains, not only with IBioIC, but with pharmaceutical companies, such as GSK, highlighted their desire for students to push out of academia and into industry. The sponsorship and support of IBioIC was also extremely beneficial and has proven to be a great advantage to breaking into the Scottish Biotech industry and beyond!
What do you like about your course and Strathclyde?
I liked the module options the course offered by different institutions. Some of the highlights of these were the Downstream Processing module, which included thorough theoretical explanation but also compounded by a practical component of purifying beer at the IBioIC FlexBio labs at Heriott-Watt University with their team. The Synthetic Biology module at the University of Glasgow also offered great practical experience, especially for me, with no molecular biology background – this went on to be my industrial project!
Strathclyde itself has good facilities and is located centrally in Glasgow so made it easy for me commuting in from Edinburgh for the course. The staff were supportive and responsive for the needs of the course.
What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?
As mentioned, I learned a lot of molecular biology skills, including cloning, cell culture, protein isolation, and purification. Additionally, this allowed me to utilise my previous skills in project management and apply them to an R&D project. The course offers a lot of interaction with academics and professionals across the IBioIC network and allows you to explore their fields and the work that they do. Take full advantage of this and ask questions!
What are your ambitions for the future and how do you think your time at Strathclyde will help you achieve your goals?
Given the current climate for vaccines and innovative medicines, there is a distinct lack of trained individuals in biotechnology.
Having this degree under my belt has opened a lot of doors in biotechnology for me and resulted in many more employability options and offers following graduation. My future goals involve continuing in the production of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) and gaining valuable cleanroom experience in the sterile manufacturing of these life-changing medicines. Eventually, I would like to manage a production unit in this area.