What is your job title?
Associate Scientific Services Director
When and where did you go to high school & what were your GCSE Results?
I went to Sheringham High School and my results were A’s and B’s.
What did you study at Paston and what were your results?
Maths AS C
Where did you go to University?
I studied Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, leaving with a 2:1 Hons degree, then returned to do a PhD.
Who do you work for, and what projects have you been involved in?
I work for a company called Darwin Healthcare Communications, a medical communications agency based in London and near Oxford. I used to work out of the London office, but now from the Oxford office. We work on projects for pharmaceutical companies to provide medical information on their drugs – some are in clinical trials and some are already approved and in use.
What is a ‘typical day at work like?
A typical day could involve writing a manuscript based on an outline agreed with the doctors who took part in a clinical trial, or creating slides for internal training of sales representatives on a new drug. We also write abstracts to be submitted to conferences and work on medical information material to be handed out or displayed at conferences. Projects often involve frequent discussions with the client (the pharmaceutical company) and/or doctors, so a significant part of some days are spent on the phone. I often need to attend training sessions to stay updated on the regulations relating to communication of medical information (to ensure it is wholly medical and not promotional), or I could be giving or taking part in training relating to writing skills. I also spend some of my time liaising with other departments and looking at resourcing, to determine if we have the capacity to take on all the work that we’re being asked to do.
What did you study at Paston? How did that course help you progress upon your career path?
I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths at A/AS level, then studied Biological Sciences at UEA, Norwich. I then took a year working in the pathology department at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital before undertaking a PhD in Biological Sciences (kidney cancer) back at the UEA. From there, I did laboratory research at the University of Essex and Kings College London before deciding I preferred writing about research over actually doing it. I then got my first job as a medical writer for a small agency in West London, and since then have progressed through Senior Medical Writer and Principal Medical Writer to now heading up a team of writers.
What are the important skills you have had to develop and hone to be successful in your job?
Good writing style, spelling and grammar; appreciating writing styles for different audiences; attention to detail; time management and prioritisation skills - to get all the work done on time; powerpoint skills - to create interesting and visually appealing presentations; people management – management of the writing team as well as managing relationships with clients and doctors. And probably lots more!
"I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths at A/AS level, then studied Biological Sciences at UEA, Norwich. "