How I ended up leaving the laboratory and moving into medical communications

This blog post was my entry for the Tipbox/Abcam science writing competition (2017), although I didn't win, I'm glad I took part in the competition. Let me know your opinions on my post below in the comments. :)


My love for science started when I was very young. I know that at first, I remember that I aspired to grow up to become an astronaut. My passion for space and space travel then turned into a love for archaeology and I wanted to become an archaeologist, taking my dad with me to “archaeological digs” at the museum. By the time I got to my GCSE's and A-levels I had decided that I wanted to become a pharmacist. So I interned at a local pharmacy so that I could experience what my future career would be like - it was then I realised I just couldn't spend my life dispensing medicine (no offence to all the pharmacists out there!) I just felt like I wanted to do something different.
UCAS application time was imminent and I had to pick a course I wanted to study at university and fill in my application form, but still didn't know what I wanted to study at university.  This didn't last long though, just until I overheard one of my classmates asking one of my chemistry teachers about Medicinal Chemistry. Immediately after my chemistry lesson, I spent my free period researching all about medicinal chemistry and what my career would be in the future. The following year, I was at a reputable university in London, studying medicinal chemistry.
Most of our subjects were merged between pure chemistry subjects and pharmaceutical sciences subjects; it wasn't until the third year when things began to differentiate and we delved more into medicinal chemistry, drug design and conducting our own laboratory-based projects.

Without waffling on, I'm here to talk to you about my research project... My project was titled "On the synthesis of a derivative of Montiporyne E- an anti-cancer derivative". Montiporyne E is a compound which has antifungal, antibacterial and cytotoxic properties; however, it’s derived from hard coral (Montipora sp.). Clearly, farming large quantities of hard coral just to get minuscule quantities of Montiporyne E is not right for the environment and it also will not produce enough product to meet the demand, so I developed a three-step synthesis to produce a derivative of Montiporyne E.


Ever since the initiation of my third and final year at university, I pondered of what my final project would be like, my results, and my main goal was to make my final product. That's it. You can obviously tell I missed a few important points there... And my project supervisor did not help me with this at all − instead, she encouraged me to continue the way I was working. So, that's how I continued until all of my experiments in the lab were completed and I had a final product, as expected, albeit only a few drops of yellowish oil in a tiny vial and a handful of NMR results to discuss in my final write-up.

My final product!
Towards the end, although too late, I realised that science is a continuous process and that during my project; the aim wasn't to finish and get a final product but to perfect each step until I find the optimal reaction that yields most product and cleanest NMRs. It didn't matter if I hadn't completed the three step synthesis and this could all be identified in the final report. In the end, I didn't have to worry as I got a good grade for my project and final report and soon after graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in medicinal chemistry.
After graduating, I thought my career would continue in the laboratory and I would continue where I left off, except at the same time I wanted to write about science and develop into a published writer.  So during my time of unemployment, I set up my blog: Crystals and Catalysts and I used it to communicate science with the world (literally).  My blog opened up the door to a large community of science editors, bloggers and Instagrammers. It also landed me my first role in medical communications as an editorial assistant. Medical communications is a field I wouldn’t have heard of if I was not searching for science communication roles.  It’s a whole new world to discover, seeing new drugs come to the market, their clinical trials results, their approval by regulatory agencies and seeing the relationship of respected scientists with pharmaceutical companies and their research. I’ve also been fortunate enough to write and prepare materials for the launching of new diabetes drugs coming to the market and new glaucoma treatments.
Yet, my job is like a ghost writer, hidden behind closed doors, only reaching scientists and healthcare professionals.  The dream of being published is still engrained in my mind and I want to have the opportunity to make science reach the public and collaborate with scientists to share their science and I’m still working towards this goal...
In no way should you feel as if you started your career path in one area – or if you have chosen a specific research area – that you are devoted to that for the rest of your career, there is always an opportunity to change your field and use your education to the fullest to get the experiences you want in life.




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